A Tampa business owner is trying to get permission to open a liquor store right next door to a sobriety center where AA meetings are held.

  • Church daycare center also in vicinity
  • Business owner seeking special use permit
  • Church pastor argues it's an inappropriate choice

The storefronts are located at the Winn Dixie Plaza at Waters and Armenia Avenues.
The business owner is applying for a Special Use Permit from the county because there is also a church daycare center in the vicinity.
Dixie Liberty, a representative for the business owner, argued their case before zoning hearing officers Monday night. She said the liquor store's proximity to the sobriety center is irrelevant because it's not considered a "community use" facility.
"It doesn't matter that it's next door. Anybody can move in next door," said Liberty. "There can be a restaurant with full liquor next door. What are they supposed to do? Move because there's a rehab next door? That's not community use. There's no right or wrong. It's everybody's entitlement. This is what the business owner wants, this is her business, that's it."
Liberty also claims an eight-foot-wall separating the potential liquor store from the daycare center and she said the walking distance is far enough.
"Plus the package store is in a retail center, so that's not the only alcohol there," she said.
Representing the opposing viewpoint, the Pastor of Oak Grove United Methodist Church voiced his concerns at the meeting.
"We feel it's just too close," said Pastor Norm Coffman. "We want the strip mall to be filled up. We want businesses to be in this community. We just feel this is an inappropriate location."
Opponents said they fear having the liquor store just a few feet away from the sobriety center will be a temptation for people trying to get -- and stay -- sober.
"You can find it being so tempting," said John Lewin. "Someone can say 'Wait a minute, I really need a drink bad' and then you're going to roll right next door. That's not a good thing for those of us in recovery."
A zoning hearing officer will make a decision within three weeks.