Walmart loses fight to sell alcohol near church



MARIETTA, Ga. - A small Cobb County church has won a victory over the nation's largest retailer.

Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt was at a county commission meeting Tuesday when the Walmart on Barrett Parkway in Marietta was denied a request to sell alcohol.

The store was built less than 600 feet from the 63-year-old Pine Grove Baptist Church six years ago. Walmart asked the church to sign a waiver allowing sales, but the church declined. A city ordinance prevents the sale of alcohol within 600 feet of a church.
"They knew before they built the store that they wouldn't be able to get a license to sell the beer and wine," said Rev. Bobby Wood.

Channel 2's Carl Willis obtained documents from Walmart's formal appeal, and found out that they were initially denied in August by the Cobb County Business License Division manager.

However, Walmart appealed that decision with the License Review Board in September, arguing that their customers have complained that they can't buy alcohol.

"There's a lot of problems caused by alcohol, a lot of traffic accidents," said Wood.

Walmart also complained that at least five other businesses within a half-mile of the church sell alcohol, and they need the same rights to compete fairly. Soon after, the License Review Board issued a recommendation to approve beer and wine package licenses.

On Tuesday, Walmart argued alcohol sales won’t affect property values or the church’s ability to use its property, but church supporters said that was irrelevant.

“It’s not a matter of values of prop or destroying the use of a facility it’s a matter of honoring and treating some of the two most prized treasures we have: the house of worship and our children, not property values,” Pine Grove deacon Kenneth Caroll said.

Commissioners voted 4 to 1 against Walmart.