Beer won't be among store's convenience

City turns down Speedway's request, despite otherwise agreeable expansion plans

April 12, 2011

Greenfield — The soon-to-be rebuilt Speedway station at 4265 S. 60th St. will not be among the chain's stores that now sell beer.

The Greenfield Common Council denied the request as part of a planned expansion of the business at that site, with some officials noting that there are already enough places to buy beer in town, including a liquor store right across the street from the convenience store.

The Speedway owners had asked to be allowed to sell beer when the station is expanded. Alcohol is already sold at 32 Speedways in Wisconsin, or nearly half the Speedway stations in the state, said Jason Kuehl, Milwaukee district manager of Speedway.

However, despite aldermen's 4-1 vote to deny the beer request, the station owner will go ahead with the expansion.

Alderman Tom Pietrowski, who cast the only vote to allow beer sales, said part of his reason favoring the request was to reward Speedway in some way for improving its property, especially in this difficult economy.

Property improvement is good for the city, he said.

He said he also was supportive because beer sales would be a convenience for customers and would help Speedway compete in a tough marketplace, and he because was satisfied that Speedway's security measures and training would keep beer out of the hands of minors.

Alderwoman Pam Akers, in whose district the Speedway is located, voted with the majority to deny.

"I also am thankful for their commitment and investment in the community," she said. "I do want it known that I appreciate them doing that, especially in this economy."

But constituents clearly do not want the station selling beer because it might hurt an established business, Cold Spring Liquor, 6115 S. Cold Spring Road, she said.

"I had a lot of phone calls from constituents concerned about the liquor store across the street's business. It was overwhelming," Akers said. "And I'm representing them."

While she received no calls supporting the Speedway request, the city received a petition bearing 253 signatures of people who strongly oppose issuing a beer license there. Pietrowski said the petition was signed mainly by Cold Spring Liquor customers.

Proximity to similar businesses comes into legitimate play when the city is asked to give permission for these kinds of special uses, said Chuck Erickson, director of economic development and planning.

Communities have a legitimate interest in deciding how much of a certain type of thing it wants in one area, he said.

"That's why communities do not have gas stations at all four corners," he said.

And for some people, liquor sales itself can be an issue, Erickson said.

Greenfield officials are mindful of their responsibility in this area, he said, having approved a Walgreens request to sell alcohol at its store at Highway 100 and Layton Avenue, but denying its other request to sell at Layton Avenue and Loomis Road, partly because that Walgreens was close to other places also selling liquor, Erickson said.

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