PLAS parents angry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Features Editor

Maybe it’s legal, but it’s not right.

That’s what parents at Pike Liberal Arts School said about an ABC Store being located in the school’s front door.

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For a while, no one at the school was aware of the type business that was under construction on the corner of U.S. Highway 231 and Kervin Drive, which leads to the campus. When they learned it was an ABC Store, many of them found it to be incomprehensible.

"I was surprised and disappointed that anyone would put a store like that right in front of a school," said Roy Folmar, president of the school’s board of directors. "I didn’t know about it until Friday. They may be within their legal rights, but, morally, it’s just not right."

According to Junior Register, building officer for the city of Troy, the builder is within his legal rights.

Register said the area along Highway 231 is a C4 zone and a package store is a permitted use for that zone, therefore, no request had to be made to the city’s zoning board.

Register said the city of Troy does not have an ordinance that has any restrictions on such a business establishment being located within close proximity to a school or church."

Folmar said even though the building is under construction, he would hope that the builder would consider other options."We are a small school and a lot of individuals and families have worked hard to make it a school we can be proud of," Folmar said. "For someone to do something like this is a slap in the face. A lot of people are upset about this. Over the next few days, we’ll look at our options to see what we can do."

But there may be little the

parents can do.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said when he found out that an ABC store would be built on that location, he called the Alabama League of Municipalities and found that the city has no jurisdiction over state businesses.

"An individual operation would have to apply to the state of Alabama for a license to sell alcoholic beverages," Lunsford said. "As part of the proceedings, the ABC Board would bring the request to the city council. The ABC board regulates itself. We have no jurisdiction over state businesses."

Those are not the words that PLAS parents want to hear. Some are concerned about the influence the liquor store might have on their children and they also have safety concerns.

"That is a very congested area anyway, " said Debra Sanders. "There is school traffic in and out many nights during the week – football and basketball games and other school activities. The safety of our children – and adults – could be in jeopardy."

Sanders said she is also concerned about the clientele of the ABC store.

"Some of those who frequent the liquor store might already be intoxicated and that increases the danger. And, children learn by example. When they see people going in and out of the store every day that sends a message that it’s okay to drink alcoholic beverages. We just don’t need an ABC store right where our children are exposed to it every time they go to school."

Lisa Wheeler agreed that many people who frequent an ABC store are not among those who choose to abide by the law.

"I hope whoever is leasing the building may have second thoughts as far as their involvement in the event something should happen as a result of this business," she said. "Some student or a family member could be injured or lose their life as a result of this."

Larry Pickett, PLAS principal, also expressed concerned about problems that could be created by "undesirable people" who might be attracted by the ABC store.

"Gov. Siegelman would be one who understands what drinking and driving can do to a family," he said. "I would think he would be sympathetic to our concerns about having a business like this so close to our school and our kids."

Although the ABC store on Highway 231 and Kervin Drive is in all probability a done deal, Lunsford said his council will probably review the city zoning ordinance regarding businesses that sale alcoholic beverages.

"Frankly, we might need to look at a distance requirement," he said. "We would certainly visit it based on request."