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Nothing decided on liquor stores, new chairman says

Beau Waddell makes a point during the inaugural meeting of the Henderson County ABC Board on Aug. 1. Beau Waddell makes a point during the inaugural meeting of the Henderson County ABC Board on Aug. 1.

County ABC board chairman Beau Waddell said the ABC boards operated by towns ought not assume that the county has made any decisions on whether to build a new store or try to merge with town boards.

"It seems like everybody's getting kind of riled up," he said. "We're nowhere near making a decision, and I'm sure when we do look at we'll involve the other boards and see if there's interest in doing anything."
Officials with the state ABC Commission have said in meetings that they recommend a merged board to streamline administrative costs and avoid cannibalizing profits from the countywide sale of hard liquor. But the state board has no authority to force the three county systems to merge, nor can the new county ABC board force a merger of the three local boards.
The county has had at least one ABC store since the 1950s. Hendersonville's ABC board operates two stores, with a third, on Upward Road at the I-26 interchange, expected to open next month. Laurel Park and Fletcher each operate one store.
County voters in a May 8 referendum approved the sale of spirits countywide, both in package stores and in mixed drinks at restaurants. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners appointed a five-member ABC board last month. The new board met for an organizational meeting on Aug. 1 and has taken no action.
"We're going to meet the first Wednesday in September. At that point we're going to determine which directions we're going to start first." The board may discuss "whether we hire somebody to do a market study or whether we investigate whether to merge. If that's the direction the board wants to go, I'm sure we would reach out to see if there's any interest in it. And they might not and that's fine. That's their prerogative."
"We're not pushing any agenda at this point," he added. "We're just trying to
State ABC officials say any local ABC board should be prepared to spend $250,000 to stock a new store if it chose to use leased space. Building a new store could cost $1 million.
Hendersonville's new Upward store cost about $1 million to build, said city ABC board chairman Charlie Byrd. Stocking it will likely cost something under the state estimate because the city already operates two liquor stores.
"It's not inexpensive to start one and then to stock it," he said. "Then you've got the surveillance equipment that's really extensive, not only what you on the exterior but what you do inside."
The Hendersonville board had been hoping to have the new store open by Labor Day, he added, but construction delays have pushed that back to mid-September.