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'As fair as possible': Cochran to award liquor licenses through lottery system

The city allows beer and wine sales, but the new licenses would allow for two stores to sell hard liquor.

COCHRAN, Ga. — If you're looking for liquor in Cochran, you're out of luck for now.

The city plans to start allowing stores to sell the hard stuff, but they're putting a cap on how many stores get the opportunity. 

Two convenience stores on Dykes Street are at the center of it all. The Lucky Lady is a relative newcomer, only in business about a month. Just across the street is the Exxon gas station, which has been there for years.

"I've been here long time. First one. So it's supposed to be me,"  AJ Patel, who owns the Exxon said.

"I'm the only one who's been going back and forth to the city to convince them to have liquor," Andy Ravleker, who runs the Lucky Lady said.

Both want a license to sell hard liquor, but their chance may be up to fate.

"Two liquor store applications that survive the lottery process would be provided the licenses," Cochran City Manager Richard Newbern said.

He says at least four businesses applied for the two slots so far. There's a chance neither Patel or Ravleker would get a license.

"City Council has set up this lottery process to make it as fair as possible," Newbern said.

One thing is for certain: If either gets a license, the other won't. 

According to the city code, there can't be a license holder within 4,500 feet of another. Based on an approximate Google Maps measurement, the stores are only about 350 feet apart.

"There's also requirements for a certain amount of inventory," Newbern said.

Stores must meet all the requirements to qualify for the lottery, including the distance requirement. They must be 300 feet from the nearest church and 600 feet from a school. 

They also must have specific hours of operation, and surveillance systems.

Patel and Ravleker say regardless of the requirements, giving folks an option to buy liquor closer to home is worth it. 

They hope it also helps the city's economy.

"Just going to help the community. Because all the people in this city, they go to the next county," Ravleker said.

Newbern says he's not exactly sure when the lottery might take place, but he says it's likely to happen in the next few weeks.

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