At the September meeting of the Greenwood City Council restaurant owner, Josh Niles, approached the council to seek permission to request a private club license so that beer and mixed drinks could be sold at his sports grill set to open in Greenwood later this year. Niles stated that he has mixed feelings on the subject not being a drinker himself. “Big businesses will never come here if they are not allowed to sell alcohol,” said Niles. “I am asking for an ordinance to be approved for me to apply for a private club license.” Even with the approval from the council Niles will still need approval from the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
In a letter from the AABCC attorney, Michael Harry, explained that any application for a private club must first be approved by the local council by ordinance. The ordinance allows an individual to file their application with the AABCC for a private club. Once the individual has permission from the council to file the application the Director will make a decision whether or not to approve the application.
As of yet Niles has not presented an ordinance to the council. The ordinance will have to be read three times unless the council finds some extraordinary circumstances to pass it with an emergency clause. Without the emergency clause the ordinance would not pass until at least December if the council gives their approval.
“The Director will take into consideration any objections from local law enforcement as well as elected officials,” said Harry. “If the application is approved any person that has voiced opposition to the application can file an appeal in front of the AABCC board.”
Harry went on to say that any concerned citizen or organization may offer testimony in front of the board to aid in the decision making process. Any decision of the board can be appealed to the circuit court of either the home county or Pulaski County for Judicial Review.
“The purpose of the ordinance is to allow the formal application process to begin,” said Harry. “It is not meant as an ordinance allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city.”
Niles, who stated that his “Sports Grill” will open in Greenwood on Nov.1, said that there will not be a bar in his establishment and that he will only allow restaurant seating.
Alderman Lance Terry voiced his support stating that a lot of revenue that should be kept in Greenwood is going to neighboring Fort Smith that allows alcohol sales.
“It is just facts,” said Terry. “I know that people don’t want to admit it but it is going to have to happen eventually. Whether I am here or dead and gone it is going to come.”
Terry stated that if he was given the opportunity to vote for alcohol sales in Greenwood that he would.
Councilman Rod Powell expressed an interest in being able to restrict sales to certain areas and that he would not want to see a sports bar next to a church. Planning Director Sonny Bell answered Powell’s concerns stating that there are very few areas in the city where alcohol could be sold due to the number of churches and school and the fact that any business selling alcohol would have to be 300 feet from any school or church.
“We have churches dotted all the way down Center Street,” said Bell. “So the ability to sell alcohol in any area is going to be very limited.”