LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court decided Friday that an Omaha convenience store can be barred from selling mini wine and liquor bottles and single beer cans.
The ruling upheld the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission’s authority to set conditions on liquor licenses, as long as the conditions are reasonable and not arbitrary or capricious.
The conditions also must fit the purpose of state liquor laws, which is to protect the “health, safety and welfare” of Nebraskans and to promote “temperance in the consumption of alcohol.”
The decision was issued in an appeal by Abay LLC, which sought a Class D liquor license to sell packaged alcohol at its new Blondo Convenient Food Mart at 7901 Blondo St.
According to the ruling, Omaha city officials and local residents had objected to the proposed license, arguing that there was no need for more liquor sales in the area and that additional sales would lead to more alcohol-related trash and more vagrancy in the area.
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The Omaha City Council recommended denial of the license after Tesfaye Kinde, the owner of Abay, refused to accept restrictions on the license. The state commission approved the license with the conditions that the store could not sell single beer cans or sell wine and liquor bottles smaller than a pint.
Abay appealed to the Lancaster County District Court. The company argued that the commission could only grant or deny a liquor license and could not impose conditions on a license.
The district court sided with the commission, as did the state high court.
The Supreme Court said previous rulings have established that the commission can put reasonable requirements on a license and the Legislature has not attempted to change that interpretation.
Will Acosta-Trejo, assistant Omaha city attorney, said he was happy with the ruling. He said it makes clear that the commission can set restrictions on licenses, which is helpful for communities across the state.