Beer permit draws local concerns

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

MESSENGER PHOTO/STACY GRANING Eight on the Break, center, is a downtown pool hall requesting a beer permit brings concern to surrounding businesses.

Eight on the Break, center, is a downtown pool hall requesting a beer permit brings concern to surrounding businesses.

A downtown pool hall’s request for a beer permit drew more than a dozen opponents to the Troy City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Floyd Larry and Willie Batie, who own and operate Eight on the Break at 303 E. Walnut St., have sought an on-premises beer license for their pool hall.

“This is right next door to our business, and we’re deeply concerned about the liquor license,” said Kelly Norris, who operates In His Steps Dance Studio. “We have children at our studio and they come out of that door, sometimes after dark, and it’s very easy for them to be harmed by someone … under the influence of alcohol.”

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Eight on the Break is located between the dance center and The Studio and is across the street from the Johnson Center for the Arts. Mack Gibson, chairman of the cultural arts center, also spoke against the license. “We’ve worked very hard over the past 13 years to develop our mission of art education for all children … especially those under served,” he said. “We’ve had over 10,000 children come into our center … and my biggest concern is the safety, health and welfare of those children …

“This type of venue being proposed is the an appropriate venue when placed directly in the middle of a cultural arts center.”

Jo Harvel, also a board member, pointed out that the Studio hosted two junior-senior proms last year, both of which included lead outs at the Johnson Center for the Arts. “That would mean there would be a place right next door for those kids to go and get something to drink,” she said, adding that while the business owners would not sell alcohol to the minors “someone else could go and buy it for them.”

After hearing the complaints and concerns, Batie spoke to the crowd and to the council. “I understand your concern but please understand we are going to run a responsible business,” he said. “Our clientele is a mature clientele and with our hours of operation, we basically are not going to be open at the time (of the student activities at the Johnson Center and Studio).”

And, as for special events such as the proms, “we are flexible enough with our business to work with you on that,” he said. “Just give us an advance notice.”

Beatie also pointed out that alcohol is available at events held at The Studio. “The Studio has had events since we’ve opened in July at which alcohol was served,” he said. “We are not a bar; we are not a night club. Our application clearly states that we are a pool hall, and for lack of a better term the ‘riff-raff’ will not be there, and we won’t allow any problems, especially with the police station an arm’s length away.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the license application at its Oct. 27 meeting.

In other business on Tuesday, the council:

• Held the first reading of an ordinance to amend the existing zoning ordinance. “The current zoning ordinance of the City of Troy was adopted in 1986,” said Melissa Sanders, planning and zoning administrator. Meeting with the council during the work session prior to the public meeting, Sanders outlined the need to revise the ordinance. “From time to time, updates to the code are needed to help ensure that the Zoning Ordinance is relevant to today’s concerns and that it is easy to use and its requirements are clear.” Some key changes address zoning for assisted living and retirement facilities and RV park developments; the need for landscaped buffer yards around parking lots; surface drainage requirements; and the need for all business to be located in permanent structures.

“This was a tough job and Melissa did excellent work on this,” said Richard Calhoun, city attorney. “We’ve had a lot of problems with our current ordinance and this is an excellent update that is needed.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the updates Oct. 27.

• Held the second reading on endorsement resolutions supporting Enterprise Zone designations for Golden Nut Corporation and CGI, then approved both resolutions.

• Awarded a bid for drainage improvements on Dianna Street to S.A. Graham Construction for $120,500. “

• Approved a three-year agreement with Watkins Engineering for engineering services.

• Held the firs reading of an ordinance to rezone 1410 Brundidge St. to a commercial designation.

• Approved a resolution terminating the city’s contract with Judicial Correction Services LLC. The company has been the subject of lawsuits elsewhere in Alabama regarding its practices in collecting traffic and court fines from indigent residents. “With this resolution we will provide notice to JCS that we will terminate contract in 90 days,” said Mayor Jason Reeves. “We’ve been making plans in the court system to take over these duties in house and we’re working with the judge and court clerk to take these over.”

• Heard an update from Reeves about the Elm Street Road repairs. “They are laying asphalt now,” he said. “Once again, I appreciate the patience of the people who live out there. When this is done, it will be done right and, hopefully, we won’t have to address it again unless we have a 100 year flood.”