Permits granted for liquor stores in newly wet counties


LITTLE ROCK — Permits approved by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board this week could mean dozens of liquor stores in three newly wet counties, most of them in Benton County.

By the time the state ABC Board wrapped up a three-day meeting late Thursday, it had granted 39 retail liquor permits in Benton County, three in Madison County and four in Sharp County.

The permits will allow the opening of the first liquor stores in the counties since residents voted in November to go from dry to wet.

Arkansas law limits counties to one liquor store per 4,000 residents, so the state ABC Division held drawings to select 55 applicants from Benton County, three from Madison County and four from Sharp County. All of the applications from Madison and Sharp counties were approved.

The denial of the some of the applications from Benton County leaves some slots in the county open. The drawing assigned priority numbers to all of the applicants, so another drawing will not be necessary to determine which applications the board will consider next, said ABC attorney Mary Robin Casteel.

The board previously approved other types of permits in the counties following the November elections, including permits for retail beer sales, small-farm wine sales and sales of alcohol for on-premises consumption. Those types of permits are not limited in number.

An applicant who is granted a retail liquor permit can obtain it and begin selling alcohol 30 days after the board’s action, although many of the applicants are still in the process of building or remodeling their stores and may not be ready to open in 30 days, Casteel said.