Lounge could be closed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Times-Journal City Editor

Southern Comfort Lounge, in Ward 8, still serves liquor, but it

may not for much longer.

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The Selma City Council voted 6-3 against renewing the nightclub’s liquor license, in Councilwoman’s Jannie Venter’s ward.

Venter said she couldn’t, because of her religious convictions, vote for any establishment that sells liquor.

“I will not vote for any liquor license,” she said. “I want to be neutral on that.”

Despite last night’s “no” vote, Venter said she would abstain from voting altogether the next time a liquor license comes up for council approval.

While the city votes to approve a liquor license, municipalities don’t actually grant or remove liquor licenses. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board does, according to City Attorney Jimmy Nunn. The board, he said, uses the city’s recommendations to determine whether or not to grant a license.

Venter was joined by Council members Jean Martin, The Rev. Dr. Cecil Williamson, Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, Dr. Geraldine Allen and Reid Cain.

Councilman Johnny Leashore defended the bar, and said that the business was in its current location for years without incident.

“It’s been

a long time liquor license,” Leashore said. “I have never heard of any serious problem that came out of (it).”

Crenshaw said she opposed the license, because the club was in a residential area.

“If it was on the bypass or in the country it’d be fine with me,” she said. “I have seen liquor licenses in neighborhoods where young people are susceptible to alcohol. If you have neighbors living in the area I would never vote (to approve a license).”

Council member Sam Randolph said Crenshaw raised similar protests during the previous year, when Southern Comfort’s license came up for renewal then.

Randolph voted to approve the license both times.

“This is an established business and it’s zoned for a business of this type,” Randolph said.

Council President George Evans said the council should be careful about denying liquor licenses to business.

“That mean’s we’re going to shut down a lot of businesses,” Evans said. “We are getting a lot of taxpayer dollars from these businesses.”