Neighborhood insists liquor store desist

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Strategy. Persistence. Fight.

Tipton’s got them and they’re coalescing to defend the hard-won peace in their neighborhood from the eminent risk they say Royal Liquor is presenting.

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Residents say that a business license and approval for a liquor license granted Royal Liquor by the Selma City Council puts the neighborhood back at risk.

The liquor store’s present site shares property with three churches and sits at the entrance to a community that houses a school and neighbors who remember how poor the quality of life was in the neighborhood the last time a liquor store existed there.

In the late 1980s, the community hosted murders, prostitution and drug trade on the street in front of a liquor store and bar, they say.

Now, both are gone and quality of life in the community has improved because of it.

“If that liquor store hadn’t been there, it never would have been called Crack Avenue,” local Pat Paige said. “It still affects this neighborhood.”

“We don’t need a liquor store,” Lenora Moore, a resident grandmother, said. “We need a store to shop in to get groceries. Not a liquor store.”

The City Council cited a lack of community involvement when the application for a liquor license was approved.

Residents claim the company misrepresented its intended business in the neighborhood as being a “barbershop.”

In addition, they cite council members’ personal ties to the community as sufficient familiarity of the area by the Council to have resisted approving the license despite the community’s lack of appearance before the council.

Capt. John Richardson, an officer for Beverage Control with the ABC Board, the state agency governing alcohol sales, said that while “you’ve got to respect due process,” there’s an easy way to help the community.

“If the council doesn’t renew their business license, then the ABC liquor license becomes null and void. Immediately,” Richardson said.

Richardson instructed agents to make certain that the store was in compliance in the event the City Council does not correct the error.

“Technically, the city doesn’t issue licenses. So the community would petition the ABC Board. Once the license was issued,” he said, “we can’t change our mind without due process. But business licenses are renewed annually by the city council, January to December, so it’s set for hearing, and the council has the right not to renew it.”

Meanwhile, from Tipton, Pat Paige has been calling, writing and scheduling meetings.

“(Councilwoman) Jean Martin said she would make a motion at the first council meeting in December,” Paige said. “I’ve also contacted members of the legislative body, state representatives Yusef Salaam in District 67 and James Thomas in District 69. They are going to write letters. I have an appointment with Senator Sanders and though his law partners represented the owners of that liquor store, I think he’ll care more about this community.”

Richardson said a letter dated Nov. 3 from Selma’s city council was received and recorded. After the vote had been taken, the council later agreed to contact the ABC Board to express the inappropriate placement of the business.

“We’ll meet Saturday at the Chosen Generation Apostolic Church to strategize,” Paige said. “We were mentioned in a clip on CNN. There’s a liquor store in Los Angeles that church members and a community protested, and they mentioned that we were doing the same thing here in Selma, Ala.”

The meeting, at Churchill and Brown Streets, takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. The neighborhood is interested in devising a back-up plan should the council lack the wherewithal to take corrective measures.