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Dayton wins fight to keep alcohol sales from two Family Dollar stores

CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The city of Dayton has won a fight with Family Dollar that will keep two of the chain’s stores from selling alcohol.

The victory comes at a time when some community members have been critical of the proliferation or operation of “dollar stores” and the city is working with company officials to address some issues around their stores.

“Other areas have dollar-type stores and they love them,” said Matt Tepper, president of the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association. “If we had a great management structure, it would probably make a world of difference.”

RELATED: State overrules Dayton’s objections to Family Dollar alcohol sales

In late 2017, the city of Dayton objected to the new liquor permit applications of six Family Dollar stores across the city. The stores are located at 1130 N. Main St.; 645 Troy St.; 1028 N. Gettysburg Ave.; 1125 Wayne Ave.; 2601 E. Third St.; and 440 N. James H. McGee Blvd.

The Ohio Division of Liquor Control sustained the objection to the East Third Street store and denied the permit. But the state overruled the city’s other five objections.

The division sent notice to the Dayton City Commission saying it did not present sufficient evidence to show the Family Dollar stores were unfit to sell alcohol or that the permit would harm the peace, sobriety and good order of the community.

The city appealed three of the decisions to the Ohio Liquor Control Commission. The commission affirmed the division’s decision in the case of the Wayne Avenue store.

But the commission sided with the city in its objections to new liquor permits requested by the Family Dollars at 645 Troy St. and 1130 N. Main St.

The commission was persuaded to reverse the decisions after hearing from some neighbors and community members who took a caravan to Columbus to speak. They shared information and observations about loitering, police calls and crime, maintenance and cleanliness issues around the stores.

Citizens provided photographs of the stores’ parking lots, trash cans and buildings’ exterior conditions. The photos reveal trash piles, graffiti and crumbling pavement.

Tepper, who traveled to Columbus, said the commission wanted to know if neighbors thought the Family Dollar in Old North Dayton would sell alcohol responsibly.

Tepper said that he witnessed a variety of irresponsible business practices at the store, including parties in the parking lot, occasional criminal activity, minimal staff at the store and trash.

Old North Dayton struggles with alcoholism and drunken driving offenses, and an irresponsible alcohol seller would exacerbate the problems, Tepper said.

Martin Gehres, Dayton’s assistant city attorney, said the denial shows community members have the ability to make positive changes in their neighborhoods when they get involved.

“If citizens of a neighborhood can come together and show problems they’ve had in a neighborhood, then it’s very successful and likely to convince the commission that this isn’t the best place for a liquor license,” he said.

MORE: Planned East Dayton dollar store would be area’s 70th

Dayton’s mayor, police chief, law department and other Dayton and Cincinnati officials met with representatives of Family Dollars’ parent company, Dollar Tree.

The company and cities are working on an agreement to try to address some problems the cities raised around the Family Dollar stores, Gehres said. A Dollar Tree representative confirmed the groups are working together but declined to share details.