Richmond city council to discuss putting limits on convenience stores

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:51 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -After a triple shooting outside the Carolina Express store in October, Richmond city council is set to discuss a resolution that could bring a crackdown on other area convenience stores.

The initiative is being led by Councilwoman Ellen Robertson. She and several other leaders think the alcohol and slot machines in these stores contribute to the gun violence problem.

Now, over a month after the alcohol and Virginia Lottery tickets were removed from Carolina Express following a string of violent crime, city leaders are evaluating what else needs to be done to keep crime down.

The goal of Monday’s city council meeting is to request an amendment to the zoning ordinance, making it harder for these stores to sell alcohol and have slot machines. Councilwoman Robertson said that right now, they can operate as full-service grocery stores, which needs to change.

“There’s quite a few convenience stores in the City of Richmond where there’s illegal activity going on, where there’s crime, where there’s outdated food, outdated meats outdated bread, outdated drinks,” said James JJ Minor, the President of the Richmond NAACP.

If the council passes the resolution, the planning commission will study the options available to make those zoning changes for other convenience stores. Leaders are saying that these stores need to sell products and operate in a way that benefits the community.

“We are in the business of supporting businesses in the community, but we want a clear message sent out that we want the businesses to also be in touch with the community,” explained Charles Willis, who heads United Communities Against Crime.

As for Carolina Express, the store that inspired this initiative, Robertson says that she wants to prevent alcohol from being sold in the store at all and to get rid of the slot machines. Virginia ABC said a formal hearing will be held on Jan.17 about the pending application that the store has to try to get its full licensure. Its temporary license is still revoked.

Virginia Lottery has not responded to a request for comment to see if they ever plan to do business with Carolina Express in the future.

“Well, I think there are consequences when your store is not doing right. I do think that that they’re not the only store. We probably need to look at other stores, especially in the east end and south side and possibly the west end as well,” Minor explained.