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Aug 9, 2014 1:38 AM by Sam Salzwedel

El Con Walmart reapplying for liquor license

TUCSON - The Walmart at El Con Mall is reapplying for a liquor license.

Last year, the Arizona Department of Liquor denied the store's request after neighbors packed a hearing and opposed approval.

Walmart made a deal with the nearby neighborhood associations to close early if the liquor license was approved. Since it was not, the doors were opened 24 hours.

The Tucson City Council will hear the company's request at a meeting on September 9. Councilman Steve Kozachik said he has been working with Walmart and the neighbors to reach another deal.

"There are very specific reasons that you can deny an application, or recommend denial," Kozachik said. "One of them is location and the other one is the history of the applicant. And it would be a tough sell on either one of those for the neighborhoods, right now, to say, ‘We don't want them to have it.'"

Kozachik said Walmart is willing to go back to last year's agreement and close early if the liquor license is unopposed. This time, Walmart is only applying to sell beer and wine.

The Target store at El Con Mall closes at 11 p.m. and sells beer and wine already.

"If Walmart had their druthers, they could open 24 hours, sell guns, ammunition and hard liquor," Kozachik said. "They're trying to find a sweet spot middle ground with the neighborhoods. And I hope the neighbors take a hard look."

Walmart emailed a statement from spokeswoman Delia Garcia that read, "We're always looking for ways to better serve our customers, including offering a broad assortment of goods, products and services. We are committed to the city of Tucson and proud of the success our store has experienced in its first year of operation at El Con Mall - benefiting our customers and the community we serve. We're encouraged by the results of last year's collaboration with neighboring residents of El Con Mall and will continue to engage with stakeholders as we move toward application of a limited liquor license to better serve customers at this store location."

If the Tucson City Council recommends approving the license, the Arizona Liquor Board will almost definitely approve the application. If the council votes no, the company could appeal to the state.

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