City Council kills liquor requests

Greenwood residents urged leaders to reject private-club bids

Posted: November 8, 2017 at 3:19 a.m.

GREENWOOD -- Aldermen have rejected two requests to apply for state private-club liquor permits after several people in the packed council chamber appealed to leaders in Greenwood to keep alcohol sales out of the city.

"Greenwood may be ready someday, but not today," Kimberly Brown, the wife of Alderman A.C. Brown, said at Monday night's meeting.

She said their son was killed by a drunk driver and she wanted others spared the nightmare she and her husband endure.

About 50 residents attended the meeting and several spoke against the two ordinances before the council.

All aldermen but Tim Terry voted against the ordinances, which would have allowed the Game Day Sports Grill and the Vache Grasse Recreation Area Golf Course to apply to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control for private- club permits.

The Legislature passed the law earlier this year that requires the permitting process for a private-club license to start at the municipal level rather than with Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The vote was on the first of three readings for the Vache Grasse Recreation Area ordinance and the second reading for the Game Day Sports Grill.

Three aldermen -- Brown, Tim Terry and Lance Terry -- voted in favor of the ordinance on its first reading last month. Mayor Doug Kinslow added his vote to allow the ordinance to pass.

Joshua Niles of the Game Day Sports Grill and Jeffrey Tole of the Vache Grasse Recreation Area assured aldermen alcohol sales would be controlled.

Niles said the sports grill would be family friendly and would not have a bar.

Tole said alcohol sales would be allowed only for members who are playing golf and would be limited to one six pack of beer.

Residents argued that many people moved to Greenwood because there were no liquor sales.

They spoke about the dangers of drinking and driving and the pain and chaos alcohol can cause to families.

"I beg you, keep Greenwood special. We can do without [alcohol sales]," Cliff Pearcy said as murmured "amens" came from the audience.

City Clerk/Treasurer Sharla Derry said a petition opposing alcohol in Greenwood was signed by about 300 people and submitted to the city before Monday's meeting.

Niles said he planned to circulate his own petitions calling for an election to legalize alcohol sales in south Sebastian County.

Sebastian County outside of Fort Smith has been dry since the 1940s. Barling residents voted to turn their city wet in 2012.

But the election was nullified by Sebastian County Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor, who ruled that, according to state law, since the entire southern district of the county voted to go dry, the entire district had to vote on whether to go wet.

Barling City Administrator Mike Tanner said recently that he wants to meet with mayors in the county's southern district to sound them out on support for a districtwide election to allow alcohol sales.

Even though the two ordinances seeking permission to apply for liquor permits were defeated, the council unanimously passed the first reading of a separate ordinance that would place tough requirements on those who wish to sell alcohol in Greenwood.

The council will have to vote on the ordinance twice more before it becomes effective.

The ordinance would, among other things, charge $1,500 a year for a supplemental privilege permit from the city to operate the private club, and would levy a tax of 10 percent on beer and wine sales and 14 percent on mixed drinks. Powell, who introduced the ordinance, said the taxes are the maximum allowed by law.

Establishments that want to sell alcohol could not be located within 2,000 feet of a school, a church, a day care, a youth activity organization, meeting places for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings or alcohol/narcotic dependency centers without the council's permission, according to the ordinance.

"There's nowhere in Greenwood where you're not 2,000 feet from one of these things," Tim Terry said.

Aldermen agreed the regulation would force anyone wanting to sell alcohol to go before the council to seek a variance from the distance requirement in the ordinance.

Powell said the ordinance was modeled on Conway's ordinance that has been in effect since 2010.

State Desk on 11/08/2017