With the city’s alcohol ordinance poised to go into effect as early as next week, preliminary license applications are now available at Cullman City Hall. City voters approved a wet/dry alcohol referendum late last year, and sales are expected to begin in the coming months.

Applications are available at city hall, though they cannot be submitted for consideration until the alcohol ordinance is approved at a Jan. 11 meeting, and subsequently published in the local paper as required by law. Once applications are submitted, a $200 nonrefundable fee is required for processing.

The city’s application — which is based on the state’s format and forms taken from comparable communities — requires basic background information on the business owner, as well as the facility and business itself.

The application process as laid out is somewhat lengthy, and includes cooperation from six different city divisions: the building department, police department, fire department, city clerk’s office, the new Alcohol Review Committee (ARC) and city council.

“The processing fee covers the fire inspection, building department inspection, and the police department looking into the record,” city accountant Wes Moore said.

Every department will write a letter of comment, and the ARC will review all the information and offer an opinion to the city council based on what they learn. Though each group will offer an opinion on potential licensees, the final decision rests with the city council and mayor.

Applicants will also be required to perform a background check with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation at their own expense (approximately $25), and release the results to the city.

A $10,000 tax bond will be required of any business receiving a license to cover any potential unpaid fees, and businesses must have at least $300,000 in liquor liability insurance from a reputable insurance provider to cover any damages.

The entire application process is estimated to last approximately one month, depending on how quickly information if offered, Moore said.

If a business is granted an alcohol permit, the owner or manager must attend a state-sponsored Responsible Vendor Certification class within 30 days, to receive a briefing on basic alcohol law, before sales can begin.

See the Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 print edition of The Cullman Times for the complete story.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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