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Local Leaders Discuss How to Curb Booze Business

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DURHAM — Some communities blame their crime problems on nearby liquor stores and bars. Now, government leaders are looking for ways to curb the booze business in hopes it will cut down on crime.

ThePower Companynightclub in Durham is one of numerous places where the use of alcohol, probably too much of it, led to problems for people, law enforcement and communities.

Now, municipal leaders from more than two dozen North Carolina cities are voicing their concern about the regulation of ABC-licensed establishments in their cities.

TheCity of Durhamand the League of Municipalities sponsored Wednesday's ABC legislative forum.

The people look to the ABC Commission and the legislature to give local governments more say in the ABC permitting process.

"We have made major changes in the permitting process that has become more inclusive of their recommendations before permits are issued," said Doyle Alley of the ABC Commission.

Police say crimes like assaults, and selling stolen merchandise, occur at Mom and Pop establishments. Shootings occur at clubs selling alcohol.

Those at the conference cite a lack of standards by the ABC Commission as a major problem.

Police say background checks are difficult.

"The chief of the Raleigh Police Department has asked to render an opinion on the character of an applicant, but he is restricted by law from gaining access to criminal history data information that would help him make that decision," said Raleigh Police Captain Mike Longmire.

Municipal leaders are considering zoning that would cut down on the number of alcohol outlets in given locations; they're also considering imposing stricter penalties for underage drinking.

"We'd like to see stricter penalties on the youths who purchase, the clerks who would sell to youth and on the outlets that don't provide enough training to make sure that the clerks aren't selling," said Barbara Martin of the Initiative to Reduce Underage Drinking.

Wednesday's meeting was actually a brainstorming session.

The lawmakers who were present say that if they do come up with some specific recommendations, they will be happy to take them to the legislature.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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