FARMINGTON — Tuesday night selectmen decided against a business’s request to have the town apply to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations for a waiver that would allow one additional agency liquor store license in town.

Food City Holdings CEO Zachary Sclar sent an email to Town Manager Richard Davis requesting the town seek the waiver. Food City recently purchased Tranten’s grocery store on Main Street.

Sclar outlined several reason for the waiver request:

• The town is the jumping off point or major thoroughfare to access Sugarloaf and Saddleback for winter activities.

• There is a significant number of summer residents who are attracted to the lakes and mountains in the greater Farmington area.

• The University of Maine at Farmington population is a significant contributor to economic activity.

By state law, the bureau may license up to four agency liquor stores in a municipality with a population between 5,001 and 10,000, Davis said.

In Farmington, Hannaford, Ron’s Market, Walgreens and Big Apple are agency liquor stores.

Selectman Joshua Bell expressed concern over another store diluting the market.

Farmington had three licenses before adding Big Apple’s about 15 years ago, Ron’s Market owner Jon Bubier said.

“There are three in Wilton, one in New Sharon and one in Chesterville, all within six miles of Farmington,” he said. “We’re all competing for the same numbers.”

The state allows stores to make 10% and it’s nearly impossible to cover insurance and storage fees from that, Bubier said.

“I have nothing against Food City, no problem issuing another license,” he said. “We can’t make a living at 10%. If the state wants to open it up, they’ve got to at least allow us to make some profit; 17-25% is normal in this industry.”

Board Chairman Matthew Smith said there is a lot of saturation.

Bubier said he didn’t understand the waiver since the license request needs to go to the state and has nothing to do with the town.

Davis agreed, saying he didn’t know what the process was when he was approached by Sclar.

“If you read the law, there’s no place for the town to do anything. He could approach BABLO himself,” Davis said. “Food City does have agency liquor stores in most of their stores. It seems to me they’d know the process.”

Bell didn’t think Food City was going through the proper channels.

“I heard from another local community store that’s been trying to get a liquor license for a long time,” he said. “They never got it.”


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