The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Liquor license protest will be contingent on sale according to council

Three Bears Corp. under fire from council and Alcohol and Marijuana Control


The paws of Three Bears Corporation are being held to the fire.

The Valdez City Council - which had announced it would protest the renewal of a package liquor store license held in Valdez by the Alaskan warehouse grocery chain - voted last week to pull it's protest of the renewal - if the company can prove within six months that it has taken meaningful steps to sell the license to another entity that will actually run a liquor store.

"If we are going to do this conditionally, there has to be some kind of timeline," council member Chris Moulton said at last week's meeting when Steve Mierop, a vice-president of the Three Bears Investment Group, LLC, appeared before council to appeal it's decision to protest the renewal of the Three Bears package liquor license.

"Under the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Board (AMCB) regulations, when we file a protest, the person whom we are protesting against has a chance to come to the council to appeal," city clerk Sheri Pierce told council.

Mierop told the council that the company was in talks with a Valdez businessman to sell the license - and that the buyer intended to open a liquor store.

City council had decided earlier to protest the renewal of the license due to the fact that the license was essentially inactive and the Three Bears license stood in the way of other potential businesses opening in the city limits.

State law limits the number of liquor licenses that can be held within a municipality based on its population, and Valdez has only one active liquor retailer, and two inactive licenses.

The Three Bears liquor license has essentially been idle since the warehouse grocery chain shuttered its doors in Valdez in 2007. In 2011, what was then the Alcoholic Beverage Control board (ABC) notified the company it would no longer issue waivers that allowed Three Bears to hold the license without actually operating a package liquor store.

The company then began to open a store at the Wilson Brothers' facility on the corner of Loop Road and the Richardson Highway, for the minimum requirement of 30 days per year, at least eight hours per day.

However, an investigator with AMCB found that the company's store was not affiliated with a physical address in Valdez and that it had failed to meet the minimum requirements to keep the license.

Erika McConnell, an AMCB board member, recommended to AMCB chair that the license be revoked.

After Mierop's appeal on behalf of Three Bears and news that Three Bears was prepared to sell the license to an interested party, council member Lea Cockerham presented a resolution that called for council to rescind it protest to AMCB on the condition that Three Bears prove within six months that it is actively involved in a transfer of the license.

Mierop said the six month timeframe was essential because the licensing board had instituted more stringent requirements on liquor license applicants since it had morphed from ABC to AMCB.


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