The Greenwood City Council voted 4-2 Monday night to pass an ordinance that establishes a permitting process and a privilege permit for selling or dispensing any controlled beverages within a private club in the city. However this does not mean that private clubs can sell alcohol in Greenwood, but If a business were to obtain a license from the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control Division this ordinance would set permit fees, tax rates and distance requirements.

The ordinance was brought to the council by Alderman Rod Powell in December in response to two businesses in Greenwood seeking private club licenses

The council voted at the Nov. 2017 meeting to reject measures that would allow two local private clubs to approach the AABC to request a license to sell alcohol at their businesses. According to Powell, his reason for voting the clubs down was due to the fact that there was not an permitting process in place.

According to state law applications to sell alcohol in a private club must first be approved by the local council by ordinance. The ordinance then allows an individual to file their application with the AABC. 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.

“The Director will take into consideration any objections from local law enforcement as well as elected officials,” said Michael Harry, AABC attorney.

“If the application is approved any person that has voiced opposition to it can file an appeal in front of the AABC 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.”

The new ordinance includes the state maximum for taxation, with a 10% tax on beer and wine and a 14% tax on mixed drinks. Fees include a $1,500 annual permit for private clubs. The business will be required to provide the fee along with their initial application, however the fee will be refunded if the application is denied.

“By having a steep privilege fee that is renewable every year you have kind of gotten rid of your dives,” said Powell.

Distance requirements

According to the ordinance, no permit will be issued for an establishment that is less than 1,000 feet to be measured from the nearest property line point to the nearest property line of any school, church, youth activity organization, day care or assisted living center within the city limits of Greenwood without prior approval from the council.

Aldermen Rod Powell, A.C. Brown, Dr. Lee Johnson and Daniel McDaniel voted for the ordinance. Lance Terry and Tim Terry voted against.

The alcohol debate began with a request by local restaurant owner Joshua Niles at the September meeting of the Greenwood City Council.

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 which opened late last year.

Niles spoke at the council meeting Monday and asked that the council reconsider his request to seek the permit and asked that the council pass it with an emergency clause. The council took no action on his request.

According to the new ordinance any applicant that is denied a permit for any reason by the city or the state will be barred from reapplying to the six for six months.