Board to rethink wine shop

| 22/10/2010

(CNS): Jacque Scott’s proposed new West Bay store took a step closer towards becoming a reality on Thursday following a court direction to the Liquor Licensing Board to reconsider its refusal to grant a change of location licence to the fine wine merchant. Following a successful application to get the board’s decision quashed last month, the liquor retailers and the board were back in court to hear how it should now proceed. After hearing arguments from the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the board for a new hearing and arguments for a direction to the board to grant the licence from Maples on behalf of Jacques Scott, the chief justice ordered it to reconsider its refusal based only on the information which was before it in April when it declined the license.

Peter Dutton, the CEO of the local wine merchants, said he was delighted with the judge’s ruling, as his legal team had argued from the very beginning of the judicial review that, if the board was directed to reconsider the decision based on the original information, it could not refuse the license.

The original refusal had been based on concerns over traffic congestion, that the district was already well serviced by liquor stores and that adding to the numbers could add to the anti-social crime problems that were affecting the neighbourhood.

Jacques Scott argued heavily throughout the judicial review that the plan was for an upmarket flagship store in a small retail development next to Fosters Republix that would in no way add to the crime in the area but enhance the existing commercial plaza.

The shop, Jacques Scott argued, would be a luxury kitchen and dining store as well as a fine wine dealer, based on the same model as the store in the Country Side shopping village in Savannah. It would be open during normal daytime shopping hours and not until 10pm, as other liquor stores in West Bay were, and it would have full time security staff and would not, unlike local package stores, sell single units of alcohol.

The merchants had said the refusal based on traffic was irrelevant as that was a matter that would be addressed with the Central Planning Authority when the planning application was made, which could not be until a provisional liquor license was granted.

The wine dealers also dismissed the idea that West Bay was “well serviced”. Although there are four small liquor stores in the district, there are no fine wine dealers; the nearest is in Governors Square. Jacques Scott had also argued that per head of population it was one of the least served districts in the entire Cayman Islands.

The Liquor Licensing Board cannot refuse a license based on competition and Chief Justice Anthony Smellie raised his concerns in open court that the board’s conclusion that the area was well serviced moved into the area of economic consideration, which was outside its remit.

In a supplementary affidavit from the board, Deputy Chair Noel Williams, who had presided over the deliberations, asked for a rehearing in which more submissions could be canvassed from people who had objected by petition. A petition is not the correct way to object and therefore it had not been considered at the time and the board wanted to give them a fair chance to object individually, Williams had stated.

The chief justice, however, noted during the arguments that the applicant also had to be given a fair chance and that the proper opportunity for anyone to object had been provided.

With no evidence of objections from the commissioner of police, the chief justice said he could see no evidence that the store would lead to issues of public disorder or traffic problems. He also noted that the board appeared to have applied a new and different test that was not within its remit and strayed into economic considerations when it suggested that the district was already well serviced and the store would be better placed elsewhere on the island.

The board will now be required to reconsider Jacques Scott’s application for a change of location licence within a relatively short period based on the evidence presented to it in April and will not be permitted to canvas any new submission or objections before coming to a new decision.

Dutton said he was hopeful that in its reconsideration the board would now grant the license, since the entire project, which will include a number of other retail outlets, is dependent on the granting of a conditional license. He said the small development would bring a welcome commercial boost to the area during its construction, even before it opens.

Describing the store as completely different to the existing small retailers in the area, Dutton claimed in his original application that it would not be in direct competition to them and hoped it would offer a new service to the people of West Bay.

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  1. Mr. Spooner says:

    West Bay has more than enough points of buying liquor and if they want more you just drive a few miles up west bay road.  They always pitch these things as upmarket or upscale, but look at the majority of the types of clientele they attract at times.

    They are enough social ills in west bay (as well as other districts) and believe that another licquor location will just add to the issue.  It’s time to put a rehab facility in west bay as you only have to drive to a few sections of west bay to see addiction at it’s best.  Not just west bay, but Grand Cayman as a whole.  We have more than a ways to purchase vices like alcohol and cigs so why do we need more?  I’m a moderate drinker myself but we could use outreach and better community programs in these districts instead.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is unfortunate to see the meanness displayed in the reaction to Mr smith’s comments, the bottom line is that Jacque Scott does not give a damn about communities it is a company in the business of selling alcohol,its purpose is to make a profit. More liquor stores means easier access to alcohol anyone that would deny this is like the idiot that say loose gun ownership laws would not lead to increased deaths by guns.

    How many programmes does Jacques Scott operate to mitigate against the chronic alcohol abuse that is so prevalent in these islands? The answer to this question will tell you a lot about where its heart is. Ching Ching – the noise of the cash register and another bottle of booze out of the door. At least Mr Smith cares about something other than profit.

  3. Michel Lemay says:

    Congratulations J. Smith for signing you name. oh yes you will be reprimended by another ANONYMOUS but don’t give. I will shake your hand if ever I meet you one day and to the young Caymanian father, it’s a start. Monkey see, sorry. Monkey do,

  4. Anonymous says:

    J Smith

    are you against a "wine" store or alcohol in general? 

    An alcoholic does not need a wine store to get drunk….it an alcoholic’s responsibility to stay sober not societies

    Supply & Demand, this is why ABC stores stay open, so obviously you are in the minority.

    stay home and be miserable let everyone decide how they want to live…



  5. anon says:

    It’s actually laughable- all that length for nary a shred of intelligent reasoning.

  6. A Concerned Young Caymanian Father says:

    I honestly don’t see the need for it. This will just be another step to killing the small business owners and monopolizing the market.

    There’s absolutely no need for it, regardless of what some might want. If it was STRICTLY a wine store, for wine lovers, then yes. But, it won’t be just a wine store…it will be DIRECTLY competing with the other liquor stores that have already been established.


    • Hallowe'en Jack says:

      Are you a Concerned Young Caymanian Father Whose Family Happen To Have An Interest In A West Bay Liquor Store?

  7. MonkeySee says:

    I think YOU just had your say but PLEASE note that you are not speaking for ALL WB residents (Caymanian or otherwise!) !!!

    I don’t really think that you get the point here.  

    The regulars that frequent those smaller shops will more than likely NOT be patrons of this one for so many reasons but namely, JS is one of the more expensive ones on the island AND its a RETAIL GOODS STORE not just liquor!  

    sidenote: I hope that all your comments were laid out when the Tiki Beach went up–that causes TRAFFIC & DISORDER all the time with the drunkards crossing the road and parking wherever….

    It just makes NO SENSE that the development of this land and the purpose of this 1 store out of several  is causing such an uproar & personal outrage!  You don’t plan to partake, fine, then don’t begrudge those of us who would. 

    I hope this JS building does come to fruition…surely it will enhance more than hurt our district.  

    You said in your post: "For the benefit of all, the officials, and every conscious West Bayer who lives in the area near the bars and liquor store (many of which are within belching distance of the police station), can attest to the constant presence of “patrons” in the parking lots, harassment by bums, those lingering behind every wall or bush nearby, and the associated illegal activities day and night."

    Come now…which of those regular patrons is going to be doing the activities you mentioned above @ JS? 

    The ones that hang out by Kelly’s (which should never have come into existence PERIOD being in a residential neighborhood) or INFERNO which looks to be reopened (and is right near an elementary school!) will probably stay right where they are comfortable, have chairs and music…not in a retail store!!! 





  8. Anonymous says:

    I live in West Bay and feel that the community would be enhanced by the addition of this store.  The existing liquor stores are small, old fashion and to be honest not pleasant to shop in and off the main road tourist would be on.

    On top of that their selection is very limited.  It is past due that the large West Bay community be served by a proper modern liquor store.  it will be a positive move for the West Bay area.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Chief Justice has effectively told them to go back and approve the license. The real winner here is Maples, the law firm that represented Jacque Scott. I’m sure that the application and appeals process to this point has cost a boat-load of money.

    • Anon says:

      He told them to rethink it but, he didn’t tell them to approve it. The Board should rethink it and refuse it again.

      • Anonymous says:

        I said that he "effectively" told them to approve it because that is was he has done. He has told them that they had no basis for not approving it in the first place and has told them to review their original decision, which is "effectively" telling them to approve it this time. As a non-drinker, I have no real interest one way or the other, but in reading the report it would appear that there is no compelling reason for them to refuse the application again.

        • Merlot says:

          Well, as a drinker of wine, I live in West Bay and I patronize the smaller liquor stores in the area all the time. I feel the district is adequately serviced and if my choice of wine is not available at one of West Bay stores, I have no problem driving to Governor’s Square or the nearest store to purchase it. Just because Jacques Scott is doing a good job at running the Savannah store without any reports of trouble, loitering etc., it doesn’t necessarily mean that the same thing is going to happen in West Bay. To cut a long story short, West Bay doesn’t need any more liquor stores. Simple!

  10. J Smith says:

    NO” to West Bay’s Mega Liquor Store


    I say “No” to a new West Bay mega-liquor store.

    I am writing to share some thoughts on the proposed Jacques Scott development at the entrance of West Bay, which would include a new liquor store as the largest tenant.

    This has unfortunately hardly been covered in the news media, except for the CNS web coverage and the resulting blogs. Also, and not surprisingly given the ‘reactive’ nature of most people, there has been little public outcry.

    However, the CNS article’s mention of the “failure by the Board to consult various parties before it made its decision” must surely represent their failure to consult and hear the opinions of the ordinary people of West Bay.

    For that reason, if residents were to be respected in such a way, why was a public meeting not called by Jacques Scott (as was done in Savannah some years ago) to debate the pros and cons?

    It is also misleading to state that the West Bay store “would not be selling single units of alcohol”. Of course, it will be sold by the six-pack or by the case, so which is worse?

    It is also unreasonable to say that the liquor store proposed would not add “to the crime problems of the district.” Is it hoped that it will cause area crime to reduce?

    While this is described as an “up-market store selling fine wines and luxury kitchen goods”, there is no mention of beer or rum – all of which will be stocked, I’m sure.

    Although I have no competing interest, and while the article states these things can’t be gotten “in West Bay at the moment”, surely they can’t be serious! Who is so desperate for a fresh bottle or a new blender that they can’t wait til they drive to an “Upmarket” liquor store on West Bay road or into George Town?

    By the way, cocaine may also be called “upmarket” as compared to ganja, but are either beneficial?

    Both the LLB’s Chairman and Deputy are West Bayers, and while that alone should not influence their decision, it can not be discarded, as they should know their district well.

    However, I think the Chairman actually recused himself for a conflict of interest (his family is in the same business in West Bay). That may be seen on one hand as a conflict of interest, but there could also be the temptation to support the industry which supplies his own store. This can’t be overlooked – but that’s for another discussion, perhaps.

    The CNS article also mentions the “issue of public interest”, and the Chief Justice called for input from the Commissioner of Police. What about hearing from we the people?

    For the benefit of all, the officials, and every conscious West Bayer who lives in the area near the bars and liquor store (many of which are within belching distance of the police station), can attest to the constant presence of “patrons” in the parking lots, harassment by bums, those lingering behind every wall or bush nearby, and the associated illegal activities day and night.

    No experts or consultants are necessary for that study.

    So, let’s all meet and chat people! West Bay is more and more like a ghetto or a ‘yard compound’ every day!

    Mr. Dutton says the liquor store will be “a statement of confidence in the West Bay district”. I’d say this is highly questionable at least, for this proposal is just a business decision and a recognition that there are big bucks to be made from selling more liquor to some thirsty residents.

    The cost to society cannot be measured when we consider the impacts on road crashes, boating accidents, and prison sentences – all wasting precious lives and souls. (And so often the innocent ones). And what are the latest statistics on alcohol use and domestic abuse and child neglect?

    Should I mention here the presence of so many branches of Alcoholics Anonymous? Or the regular meetings several times a week for the hundreds of admitted alcoholics in every district? Or even the presence of the Narcotics Anonymous group meetings (yes, I know liquor stores don’t sell narcotics, but as every 6 year-old-child knows, liquor is a gateway drug to harder drugs).

    As far as the blogs are concerned, yes they may be interesting words, but most of those people are misinformed or at least inconsiderate.

    After all, if more commercial space is the answer, there are many nice spaces available at Centennial Towers and in other nice and newly constructed business centers nearby. Never mind that it appears that even more West Bay businesses may be closing and vacating their premises in the near future.

    A mega liquor store is not, as one blogger wrote, “an investment in the community.”

    Really, with so many unemployed, idle and undereducated, this is their golden opportunity for a brighter future?

    Further, as another blogger said, “If this business is not wanted the residents will decide with their wallets, and it will fail. Come on now – have you ever seen a liquor store go out of business?

    I doubt this letter will make much impact, but either way, as a parent (whose family has been adversely affected by alcoholism) I do not see this as beneficial to my children, or to the community as a whole.

    Is West Bay soon going to be like central George Town, with bar owners regularly complaining that the music and patrons of the bars next door is affecting each other’s business?

    The LLB regrettable seems to have given up the traditional respect for Sunday nights byallowing bars to open at 12:01am and into the morning; never mind the farce of “extended hours” …Thos extended hours til 3am or later was supposed to serve as a cooling-off period for patrons before they went home, but which has done the opposite – often with criminal and tragic results amongst the early morning partiers – and even innocent motorists.

    I therefore appeal to all to take a last look into their conscience, and to the many good people West Bay – speak up or prepare to move out!

    Mr. Chief Justice – can we have our say? – Please!

    • Anonymous says:

       This comment contains so many assumptions, inaccuracies and prejudices and so much general stupidity that it is hard to know where to begin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately you did not address what you ‘the people’ is objecting to.  Oh and you failed to make a comparison between the Savannah Store and the proposed store.

       Let me help you, I am yet to see vagrants outside this premises.  In fact I’ve never been approached outside the store.  So let’s debate the issues and provide facts.  The sister store has existed for some time so make a comparison between the existing store (Savannah) and the proposed (The Strand) please.  Not fairy tales and inferences


    • ANONYMOUS says:

      If you don’t want to shop there, then dont – but plenty of nice, hard working, decent people in West bay would like to have the opportunity to do so. Jacques Scott are a well run, local company who I am sure will run their store in West Bay same as they do their others and will also provide jobs both in the retail store and the construction thereof.

      Some people just can’t see the forest for the trees!

    • Hallowe'en Jack says:

      Methinks the thumbs will do enough talking one this one.