Critics say liquor law change hurts business development

A 2008 state law stopping the sale of alcohol within 200 feet of schools and churches — even if there's no opposition — was criticized Tuesday at a liquor-commission meeting.

Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner Bobbie Coray said the change is hurting Logan, Brigham City and other communities in the state built around LDS Church facilities.

"It almost destroys downtowns," she said, noting that in the past, the LDS Church as well as other churches have agreed to allow nearby restaurants to seek liquor licenses. Jim Ack, a veterinarian who owns a building in the 9th and 9th neighborhood near Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City, told the commission he has had a dozen restaurateurs interested in the space until they found out they couldn't apply for a liquor license.

"The building is sitting empty," Ack said during the public-comment portion of the meeting. He said he is aware of similar situations faced by property owners throughout the city and state.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, sponsored the change in the law as part of a larger liquor bill that also included ending the sale of flavored malt beverages known as "alcopops" in grocery stores which critics argue are marketed to underage drinkers.

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