(a) A license may be issued by the commissioner to any person who submits an application, accompanied by a license fee and, where required, a bond, and states under oath:
(1) The name and residence of the applicant, the duration of such residency, and that the applicant is 21 years of age. If the applicant is a firm, association, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, or corporation, the application shall include the residence of the members or officers. If a person, firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, association, corporation, or trust applies for a license as a distributor, the person, or in the case of a firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, association or trust, the members, officers, trustees or other persons in active control of the activities of the limited liability company, association or trust relating to the license, shall include the residency for these persons on the application. All applicants and licensees must include a manager on the applicant’s license application, or a licensee’s renewal application who must meet all other requirements of licensure, including, but not limited to, United States citizenship or naturalization, passing a background investigation, being at least 21 years of age, being a suitable person, being of good morals and character, and other requirements, all as set forth in this article and the rules, promulgated thereunder, all in the interest of protecting public health and safety and being a suitable applicant or licensee. In order to maintain licensure, a licensee shall notify the commissioner immediately of a change in managers. If the applicant is a trust or has a trust as an owner, the trustees or other persons in active control of the activities of the trust relating to the license shall provide a certification of trust as described in §44D-10-1013 of this code. This certification of trust shall include the excerpts described in §44D-10-1013(e), of this code and shall further state, under oath, the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and birth dates of the beneficiaries of the trust and certify that the trustee and beneficiaries are 21 years of age or older. If a beneficiary is not 21 years of age, the certification of trust must state that the beneficiary’s interest in the trust is represented by a trustee, parent, or legal guardian who is 21 years of age and who will direct all actions on behalf of the beneficiary related to the trust with respect to the distributor until the beneficiary is 21 years of age. Any beneficiary who is not 21 years of age or older shall have his or her trustee, parent, or legal guardian include in the certification of trust and state under oath his or her name, address, Social Security number, and birth date;
(2) The place of birth of applicant, that he or she is a citizen of the United States and of good moral character and, if a naturalized citizen, when and where naturalized. If the applicant is a corporation organized or authorized to do business under the laws of the state, the application must state when and where incorporated, the name and address of each officer, and that each officer is a citizen of the United States and a person of good moral character. If the applicant is a firm, association, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, trust, or has a trust as an owner, the application shall provide the place of birth of each member of the firm, association, limited liability company, partnership or limited partnership and of the trustees, beneficiaries, or other persons in active control of the activities of the trust relating to the license and that each member or trustee, beneficiary or other persons in active control of the activities of the trust relating to the license is a citizen of the United States, and if a naturalized citizen, when and where naturalized, each of whom must qualify and sign the application;
(3) The particular place for which the license is desired and a detailed description thereof;
(4) The name of the owner of the building and, if the owner is not the applicant, that the applicant is the actual and bona fide lessee of the premises;
(5) That the place or building in which is proposed to do business conforms to all applicable laws of health, fire, and zoning regulations and is a safe and proper place or building not within 300 feet of a school or church measured from front door to front door, along the street or streets. This requirement does not apply to a Class B license or to a place occupied by a beer licensee so long as it is continuously so occupied. The prohibition against locating a proposed business in a place or building within 300 feet of a school does not apply to a college or university that has notified the commissioner, in writing, that it has no objection to the location of a proposed business in a place or building within 300 feet of the college or university;
(6) That the applicant is not incarcerated and has not during the five years preceding the date of said application been convicted of a felony;
(7) That the applicant is the only person in any manner pecuniarily interested in the business so asked to be licensed and that no other person is in any manner pecuniarily interested during the continuance of the license; and
(8) That the applicant has not during five years preceding the date of the application had a nonintoxicating beer license revoked.
(b) In the case of an applicant that is a trust or has a trust as an owner, a distributor license may be issued only upon submission by the trustees or other persons in active control of the activities of the trust relating to the distributor license of a true and correct copy of the written trust instrument to the commissioner for his or her review. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the copy of the written trust instrument submitted to the commissioner pursuant to this section is confidential and is not a public record and is not available for release pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act codified in §29B-1-1 et seq. of this code.
(c) The provisions and requirements of subsection (a) of this section are mandatory prerequisites for the issuance and, if any applicant fails to qualify, the license shall be refused. In addition to the information furnished in any application, the commissioner may make such additional and independent investigation of each applicant, manager, and of the place to be occupied as necessary or advisable and, for this reason, all applications, with license fee and bond, must be submitted with all true and correct information. For the purpose of conducting such independent investigation, the commissioner may withhold the granting or refusal to grant the license for a 30-day period or until the applicant has completed the conditions set forth in this section. If it appears that the applicant and manager meet the requirements in the code and the rules, including, but not limited to, being a suitable person of good reputation and morals; having made no false statements or material misrepresentations; involving no hidden ownership; and having no persons with an undisclosed pecuniary interest contained in the application; and if there are no other omissions or failures by the applicant to complete the application, as determined by the commissioner, the commissioner shall issue a license authorizing the applicant to sell nonintoxicating beer or nonintoxicating craft beer.
(d) The commissioner may refuse a license to any applicant under the provisions of this article if the commissioner is of the opinion:
(1) That the applicant or manager is not a suitable person to be licensed;
(2) That the place to be occupied by the applicant is not a suitable place or is within 300 feet of any school or church measured from front door to front door along the street or streets. This requirement does not apply to a Class B licensee or to a place now occupied by a beer licensee so long as it is continuously so occupied. The prohibition against locating any such place within 300 feet of a school does not apply to a college or university that has notified the commissioner, in writing, that it has no objection to the location of any such place within 300 feet;
(3) That the manager, owner, employee, or person is in a contractual relationship to provide goods or services to the applicant is an active employee of the commissioner; or
(4) That the license should not be issued for reason of conduct declared to be unlawful by this article.