Commission denies liquor license

Published 4:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

­­­The Pike County Commission denied the liquor license requested by Chris Dickens for a pub-brewery in the Springhill community after members of the community expressed their concerns to the commissioners during the work session.

“I think if you look at the name of this establishment – pub and brewery – it tells you the purpose of this store,” said Keith Reynolds, voicing the concerns of the Springhill community to the commissioners. “That, in turn, tells you their No. 1 goal is to sell alcohol.”

Reynolds reflected on Dickens’ presentation of the establishment, saying that Dickens wanted to incorporate additional security and said that security shouldn’t be needed if the crowd is upstanding.

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“The owner already said that he wants additional security,” Reynolds said. “If he needs additional security, then he believes his establishment will bring in that type of crowd.”

Reynolds explained that the community believed that bringing that type of activity into the Springhill community would have a negative effect that would greatly outweigh the positive things being brought in by the establishment.

Reynolds also addressed the safety concerns, saying that the pub-brewery is proposed to be in an already dangerous location, where many wrecks have already occurred.

“You will have people driving up and down that highway impaired by alcohol,” Reynolds said. “Innocent people can be hurt or killed.”

Dickens, owner of Sweet Rack Rib Shack and culinary arts teacher at Charles Henderson High School, said he was unaware of the concerns of the community until it was addressed in the work session.

“I want to apologize to the Springhill community,” Dickens said. “This is the first time I’m hearing it. It was never my intention to put a black eye in the Springhill community.”

During the meeting, Dickens addressed the concerns Reynolds presented in the work session.

“My family will be living on that property,” Dickens said, addressing the need for additional security. “I would be remiss if I didn’t have security on the property. That is for my family; I am not waivered.”

Dickens also acknowledged the complaints about the type of people being brought to the pub-brewery.

“We can’t regulate morality,” Dickens said. “We don’t want people in there who don’t know how to act. We will not discriminate, but we need to regulate their behavior.”

Dickens said that he may have been unclear in the last meeting and explained that his pub-brewery will have one private section, and the eating establishments would be open to the public. The patio and inside bar would require a membership to access.

“There are liquor licenses all around,” Dickens said, saying that his should have the same right.

After Dickens finished, commissioners took a vote and denied the request for a liquor license. Commissioners voted to 5-1 to deny the request, with Commissioner Jimmy Barron voting in favor of the license.

Following the meeting, the Pike County Commission held a short budget hearing, confirming the need to raise the cost of living adjustment by 4 percent while leveling the funding from last year.

The budget will be finalized Sept. 28 during the next meeting.

In other business, the commission voted to award the annual bids, approved the EMPG grant for signing and adopted the Alabama Department of Youth Services contract.