Brewing Over Alcohol Sales Near Schools

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

On a busy stretch of road in Broadway, J. Frank Hillyard Middle School sits just two lanes away from convenience. There's the Q-Stop and the Picadilly's Exxon. Both have expressed an interest in getting an ABC license. But neither have been able to get past the Rockingham County School Board.

"We really would not want the influence of alcohol that close to our school," says School Superintendent Dr. John Kidd.

Picadilly's is putting up a fight. Its request for a license was recently rejected and now the store is appealing to the state ABC board.

Virginia code says a license can be refused if the applicant is close enough to a church, hospital or school to potentially cause disorderly conduct. But ABC says it does work on a case-by-case basis.

"There really is no norm but always proximity to a school or church is a serious consideration," says Becky Getting, a spokeswoman for ABC from Richmond.

Linda Hijjeh is a concerned parent with a son at Hillyard Middle School.

"I really think it would be the wrong thing to do to have alcohol this close to the school. It would really make it accessible to the students after school if they have after school events," she says.

Kidd also worries about adults bringing alcohol to athletic events. And he fears what precedent a license at one convenience store could set for the others in the area.

"If it's granted for Picadilly's, my guess is that at least Q-stop would ask again," he said.

There is a 7-11 near Broadway High School that sells alcohol, but its license was granted before the school was built. Picadilly's appeals case is set for July 8.

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