Committee formed to review liquor ordinance

During the August Bolivar City Council meeting, council members once again addressed the issue of the city’s liquor ordinance when one councilman made an attempt to repeal the ordinance.

The request came during a rather heated discussion, during which council member Julian McTizic made a motion to repeal the current ordinance because he felt that more time was needed.

Councilwoman Suzanne Rhea and Mayor Barrett Stevens took exception to this, saying that the ordinance had already been discussed and voted on twice. McTizic was one of four council members, including Randy Hill, Tracy Byrum, and Todd Lowe that were not present during the final vote which was held during a special called meeting on June 22. Two of the most hotly contested items in the ordinance are the regulation the store be located within the DEVCO footprint downtown and the fact there is no regulation the store be within 500 feet of a church.

During a public hearing on the ordinance Jac Belet, a member of the DEVCO board, spoke to the importance of locating any store downtown. He said a store in that area could mean over $50,000 per year in revenue that DEVCO needs.  Other speakers were less receptive, including the pastor of Second Chance Ministries, who said a liquor store in downtown Bolivar is not acceptable because it would be hard on people who come to her church who are recovering alcoholics.

Stevens asked council members Hill and Rhea to be on a committee and meet with Bolivar City Attorney Steve Hornsby and a representative from MTAS to take a closer look at the city’s new package liquor ordinance and, if necessary, write up a new draft to the ordinance with any amendments for the council to debate at the September meeting.

After the public meeting, McTizic withdrew his motion to repeal the ordinance after it was explained that a repeal of the ordinance could be bad for Bolivar because there would be no local regulations for the new law.

During the Liquor Store Review Board meeting which was held just after the council meeting, there was one applicant (Bill Garrett Jr.), who wants to open a store on S. Water Street. The Council asked whether or not the building had the required 1000 square feet of retail space and it was revealed that while there is more than 2500 square feet in the building, it is currently partitioned off in three separate areas, but with minor renovations, it would be compliant. McTizic moved for the application to be denied until the building was fully compliant. The motion passed 5-1, with only Stevens voting no.

“If I was a business owner, I would want to make sure I could get the permit before I put money into any renovation,” Stevens said.