The Macon-Bibb County Commission upheld its decision to not allow a troubled convenience store to continue selling alcohol.
Commissioners voted Monday to not renew the alcohol license for Super Gas, also known as M&M Grocery, following a hearing for the 2760 Montpelier Ave. store. During the hearing, the attorney representing M&M Grocery said the store’s owner has taken measures to rid problems caused by people committing crimes around the location.
Since 2016, Bibb deputies responded to 144 calls to the store, including calls about the sale of drugs, disorderly conduct and a homicide that happened near the store.
Commissioners were requested to have Monday’s hearing by the store’s owner after initially denying the renewal in June.
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But on Monday, one commissioner who met with the store’s owner during the past year to discuss the issues, says he was unable to persuade other commissioners to give the owner another chance.
“I was trying to still be supportive of the sheriff’s recommendation but I couldn’t convince other commissioners to do so so I decided to support them,” Commissioner Al Tillman said following the executive session.
At the hearing, Sheriff David Davis testified about the issues that have plagued M&M Grocery. Although he recommended renewing the license, he did so with reservations and with the condition that certain stipulations must be met, the sheriff said.
The store’s attorney, Charles Cox, said at the hearing that although the commission has the right to give the final OK on an alcohol license, the commission members should have followed the recommendation of Davis that M&M continues having one.
Davis’ letter to commissioners stated that if M&M closed it could lead to displacing one gang, thus leading to more friction with another nearby rival gang.
“Ultimately it comes down to it’s better for public safety ... to keep this alcohol license in place than it is to shut this business down,” Cox said during the hearing.
Davis testified Monday he was unaware of an alcohol license being denied for a convenience store because of crime since the consolidation of Macon and Bibb County in 2014. He noted that a walk-up window was installed at M&M earlier this year. The store’s owner also had spoken with Davis about further beefing up security, including installing a better surveillance system.
M&M Grocery was put on probation for six months in 2016 as law enforcement and county officials monitored the business. But during that period, the store was temporarily shut down following an illegal gambling sting.
Commissioner Gary Bechtel asked Davis on Monday if the chronic problems persisted after the convenience store re-opened.
Davis replied, “Based on the information we had, it would lead to believe there had not been much improvement.”