It was standing room only at Monday night’s Greenwood City Council meeting. The hall was packed to hear the debate concerning the sale of alcohol at private clubs within the city. Two requests to file applications with the state were struck down after nearly an hour of input from the public.
Pastor of the Greenwood First Baptist Church, Ronnie Deal, was the first to speak against the ordinance stating “Greenwood is a unique community that has earned a strong reputation for being a great place to raise a family.”
Deal was followed by Todd Hales, Minister at the Northside Church of Christ in Greenwood and then by former councilman Jim Newcomb, who argued that the tax revenue that the city would receive would not justify the measure. Newcomb hypothesized that if a restaurant was able to sell 1,000 drinks a month at an average price of $3 per drink that it would bring in $3,000 that if taxed at 10 percent would bring in $3,600 in tax revenue over the course of a year. “If we need $3,600 a year we are in trouble,” said Newcomb. “We have better things to do with our time, we have ways to make things better other than alcohol.”
Others that spoke out against the ordinance include Joey Roland, John Bailey, Wade Dunn, Tammy Jones, Kimberly Brown and Cliff Pearcy.
The ordinance was ultimately voted down 5-1 with AC Brown, Dr. Lee Johnson, Rod Powell, Daniel McDaniel and Lance Terry voting against. Tim Terry was the lone vote in favour of the measure.
The debate over alcohol sales started at the September meeting council when 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 that opened earlier this month. At that time Niles stated that he had 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 needed 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.
A similar ordinance for the Vache Grasse Country was also denied by the council on its first reading.
“This is why we do things this way and have three readings,” said Alderman AC Brown. “In order to get the word and make things public and to hear everyone’s view point.”