RIDGELEY, W.Va. — Residents and town officials voiced their concerns about a proposed alcohol license application for the Canal Hotspot during a West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration hearing on Wednesday.
The application is for a class A/tavern nonintoxicating-beer-only license, which includes only beer of .5 percent to 12 percent alcohol by volume, according to state code.
During the hearing, Mayor Jim Twigg and Councilman Tom Hedrick said they stood behind the 241 residents that signed a petition opposing the Canal Hotspot located on 3 Potomac St.
“When this first started out in the heat of the moment, I made the mistake of saying, ‘If you don’t want it, it ain’t going to happen.’ But that was off the cuff and I’m sure everyone here realizes tonight that what happens or doesn’t happen lies in a table in Charleston and not in my hands,” said Twigg. “If it was in my hands and since I represent you, you know what would happen.”
Of the 11 people who spoke during the hearing, only one was in favor of the proposed business
“It’s my feeling, that if they collected all the right permits, paid their licensing fees and were in the guidelines for the ABCA board to grant them their business, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed (an application),” said resident Dallas Tabler.
Resident Bill Shepherd, who said he has lived in the town for 60 years, felt the proposed business would continue to tarnish the town’s name.
“For 60 years, we have been fighting a name that Ridgeley has acquired for all those years — as a place to come drink and gamble,” said Shepherd, who helped to circulate the petition.
Mineral County Commissioner Dr. Richard Lechliter, who resides in Ridgeley, echoed Shepherd’s sentiments
“It is not the proper influence for our youth, and not the reputation we wish non-residents to think of Ridgeley as — the community of bars and gaming machines.”
There are four drinking and gambling establishments within five blocks of Potomac Street, according to Shepherd.
“It’s just another bad name for the town of Ridgeley,” said Shepherd.
A majority of those who spoke in opposition of the business citied parking and safety concerns.
The proposed business is on a blind corner and there are three businesses within 100 feet of that area, according to Councilman Lynn Carr, who is vice president of the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Department.
Lechliter said there was dangerous traffic congestion within a 100 feet radius of the proposed business.
“Other than my social and moral concerns, are the dangerous safety issues of this proposed business along this busy curve of Alternate 28, where Mulligan Street becomes Potomac Street,” said Lechliter.
Lechliter indicated he didn’t think there was sufficient parking available with the other businesses in the area.
“I believe you will conclude this is the wrong location for such a business in our community and as a safety hazard for all motorists and pedestrians,” said Lechliter.
Canal Hotspot Owner Tina Mays said that she had sufficient parking for the patrons and if they couldn’t find parking they could park somewhere else.
“I feel so confident that the police department can take care of the traffic and the safety of the citizens on the road,” said Mays. “We are very small. I’m just there to have a little business and to keep it as simple and quiet as possible.”
The proposed business is 800 square feet, will fit 13 people and will have five slot machines, according to Mays.
The business would be open from around 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and there will be a four beer limit per customer.
It will take several weeks to transcribe and receive the information from the hearing, according to Gary Robinson II, a spokesman for the ABCA.
“The commissioner (Ronald Moats) will be receiving your comments, will be looking at the license application, will be looking at our code and regulations, the initial inspection report that was conducted and will be making a decision to grant or not grant a tavern license to Canal Hotspot.”