Residents, council debate renewal of store's license

The resolution was one vote short of emergency passage.
WARREN -- A resolution opposing the renewal of a convenience store's beer and wine carryout license stalled in city council Tuesday evening because it lacked the seven votes needed for passage as an emergency measure.
At issue was a resolution sponsored by City Councilman James "Doc" Pugh, D-6th, which would have put council on record objecting to renewal of the permit at Dawlah Discount Corp. at 1104 Palmyra Road Southwest.
The resolution passed by a 6-2 vote, which meant it wouldn't take effect for 30 days, explained Darla K. Neugebauer, council clerk. Such resolutions must go before the Ohio Division of Liquor Control by Thursday to be considered, so no state hearing on the matter will be called, she added.
Liquor licenses automatically continue from year to year statewide unless the local governing body objects to their renewal by Sept. 1, she explained.
Opposing renewal
Voting in favor were Council members Pugh; Susan E. Hartman, D-7th; Robert L. Dean Jr., D-at large; Alford L. Novak, D-2nd; Robert Holmes III, D-4th, and Vincent S. Flask, D-5th.
Voting against it were Gary Fonce, D-at large, and John Homlitas, D-3rd. Absent were Virginia Bufano, D-1st and Felipe Romain Jr., D-at large.
Before the vote Pugh told council: "My purpose is to have a hearing so everybody can get their concerns addressed. ... Hopefully, those citizens that have made the complaints and have the concerns will come to that hearing."
"If this new ownership is doing their job, and there are more citizens that support what they do than there are who are against what they're doing, the whole concern is going to be resolved," Pugh said.
Pugh said he had received about 10 complaints within the past year concerning the store, including those pertaining to loitering and loud car stereos.
But Pugh said the store has generated many fewer complaints recently than under the previous owners and that he had received no reports from city department heads recommending that council object to the renewal.
Defending store
"They're not even averaging one call per month there," Fonce replied, noting that police have received only nine calls for service at that location so far this year, including some pertaining to traffic accidents. "Using police stats, we're not getting any more calls to that location than we are to 50 percent of the businesses in this city," he added.
Abdo Albaadani, who has owned the store for the past six years said, "You have to close the drug dealer's places, not my business."
When the store was run by different owners under the name Thomas Superette, the state revoked its liquor license in 1996, following complaints of gunfire, underage drinking and public indecency in the vicinity of the store. Five years later, neighbors considered voting the ward dry.
"I don't think the problem is actually with the store. I think the problem is with the drug dealers in the neighborhood. It has nothing to do with these people," Louann Kenyon of Palmyra Road said of Albaadani and his wife, Cora.
Kenyon said she'd support renewal of the store's liquor license. The Albaadanis have cleaned up the store, put siding on the building and added a drive-through window, she noted. The store closes at 9 p.m. nightly, and, after that hour, only drive-up service is available, thereby discouraging loitering, she said.

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