A Dollar General store | Image from Flickr user Mike Mozart. Creative Commons license.

The Dollar General on Murray Road in McKinleyville may soon be selling booze, and some folks are not too happy about it. Enough so that many residents have protested the store’s application for a liquor license by sending letters to the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

One of the main complaints of McKinleyville residents is the fact that the store is right across the street from McKinleyville High School, which some people fear will make alcohol more accessible to the students.

McKinleyville High School Principal Nic Collart is among those protesting the store’s license, and said he does not support the idea of alcohol being sold so close to the school.

“I don’t think it represents our community’s values.” Collart told the Outpost.

Collart said that other residents have expressed concern about the possibility of students buying or stealing alcohol from the store. But Collart is not particularly worried about that. He said he trusts the students at his school.

“We have a great group of kids that are going to make good decisions,” he said.

Though Collart doesn’t necessarily feel that alcohol sales would be detrimental to the students, he feels that allowing alcohol sales so close to the school sends the wrong message about the community and doesn’t promote a family friendly feel neighborhood. It was difficult for him to explain exactly what about it was bad, but just that it “doesn’t seem appropriate.”

Collart added that he doesn’t think the Dollar General was not the best choice for use of the lot next to the school and wishes it hadn’t been built in the first place. Of course, there is not really anything that can be done about that now.

And Collart is certainly not alone in his view. Residents have been opposing the store since it first applied for building permits last year. But, as reported by the Mad River Union, because the land was zoned for commercial development there wasn’t much residents could do to stop it. The owners only needed permits from the Humboldt County Planning and Building department and the process did not involve any public hearings.

But in the case of the liquor license, the residents’ protests could make a difference. An establishment being too close to a school is considered a legitimate protest against a liquor license, John Carr, public information officer for Alcoholic Beverage Control, told the Outpost

The store’s application for a “Type 20” license, which is for beer and wine sales only, is currently on hold due to the protests. Carr said that the ABC had reviewed the protest letters and determined that 64 of them were valid.

The hearing for the license has still not been scheduled. But when it is, Carr said the information will be public and community members will be given an opportunity to speak during the hearing.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone has been following the store’s liquor license application and provided an update on the on the McKinleyville Community Watch Facebook page last week, telling people that the hearing for the licence would be in Eureka in a few months.

Madrone told the Outpost that he is not the biggest fan of the Dollar General being there. But he said that he is not taking a stance for or against the liquor license approval. He is simply providing his constituents with information on an issue that he knows they are concerned about.

“I’m trying to encourage people to engage,” Madrone told the Outpost. “Whether they’re for it or against it.”