The Perry City Council overturned its previous denial and voted to approve the renewal of a liquor license for the Dollar General store Monday night after the company promised to reform its risky behavior.
The city denied the company’s application to renew its liquor license in March due to ongoing violations of the city fire code, including blocked aisles, blocked emergency exits and blocked electrical panels.
Representatives of the corporation appeared before the Perry City Council April 22 and explained their plans to reform. Dollar General attorney Jace T. Bisgard said the company “readily admits” its violations of the city’s fire code and is “working very hard to fix those issues.”
At Monday’s council meeting, council members posed several questions to Perry City Attorney DuWayne Dalen about the city’s options for action.
“If we do give them a license, and they don’t hold up their end of the bargain, could we rescind it?” said Perry City Council member Barb Wolling. “Would we maintain more local control if we went ahead and approved it?”
Dalen said the city always has the authority to revoke a license at any time if violations of the city code go uncorrected.
“We have the authority to suspend it down the road should we need to,” he said.
Council member Dean Berkland asked whether it would be better to avoid the rigmarole of possible hearings before the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division or the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.
“So the question is,” Berkland said, “do we want to make them jump through the hoops and go to the state, or do we want to give them a break and let it happen now?”
For the sake of a clear discussion, Dalen read a relevant portion of the Iowa Code.
“These are the guidelines,” he said, “that we are supposed to be looking at as a city, okay? ‘The location has to satisfy the health, safety and fire requirements of our local jurisdiction.’ If they are doing those things, then we should approve the site, okay? If they are not doing those things, then we could disapprove, or in the future we could move to suspend it.”
The discussion among council members led to a general agreement that the store has improved and the violations have been corrected.
Council member Dr. Randy McCaulley moved to approve the application for renewal, and council member Vicki Klein seconded McCaulley’s motion, which the council unanimously approved.
“We still have a heavy hammer that we can play,” McCaulley said. “If we give them approval tonight and start seeing problems, we can suspend it.”
“My crystal ball is cloudy,” said Perry Mayor John Andorf. “I believe they have the intent to make it better, but I don’t know if they can maintain it based on the history of the store.”
Dollar General Corp., headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, operates more than 16,000 variety stores in the continental U.S., including 257 in Iowa. The chain earned $27.8 billion in revenues in 2019, according to the company’s annual report.