Council faced with having to approve liquor permits quickly

Published 8:39 pm Thursday, February 20, 2014

After suspending the rules twice to approve liquor permits, the Selma City Council proposed two steps to change the way businesses apply for licenses.

The two permits were among five total applications considered by the council during Thursday’s meeting. Both of the approved permits were presented to the council Thursday for the first time and requested the Bridge Crossing Jubilee as the start date for the licenses. The first approved license was temporary for a private event scheduled during the Jubilee. The second was a one-year license for a business on Water Avenue.

After the council voted 5-1 in favor of the first application, council member Michael Johnson argued for fairness when considering the second.

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“We can’t do it for one and not do it for the other,” Johnson said. “This will be downtown in the entertainment district, so it is in the right area.”

Once the council approved the second license by an identical vote count, council president Corey Bowie proposed a time requirement for business owners to present applications. He said liquor license applications should be received by the council at least one month in advance of the date business owners propose for the first date of operation.

“We need to have some kind of regulation in place so we can better serve the citizens,” Bowie said. “It is important to have time to look over the application. If you look at a thriving city, they have several means of generating revenue other than liquor.”

Bowie plans to present his resolution to the council for a vote at a future meeting.

Council member Cecil Williamson said he supported Bowie’s proposal, but also requested the council proceed with passing a 6-month liquor license moratorium.

“It seems like we are considering three, four, or five [liquor licenses] at every meeting,” Williamson said. “One day I think we’ll realize there’s a link between the amount of liquor establishments in our city and the problems we have.”

The moratorium would include liquor stores, bars and convenience stores. Williamson said he wants to research the number of establishments that similarly sized cities contain.