City seeks liquor by the drink

Green­land lead­ers learn vote didn’t cover on-premises con­sump­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - HICHAM RAACHE

GREEN­LAND — Mayor Bill Groom was pleas­antly sur­prised when he found out his city would not have to have an­other elec­tion to at­tract restau­rants that sell liquor by the drink.

“This is huge. Wow,” Groom said.

Green­land res­i­dents voted 351-136 in Novem­ber to make the city wet. Only five reg­is­tered vot­ers in the city did not go to the polls, ac­cord­ing to Wash­ing­ton County Clerk Becky Le­wallen.

But city lead­ers were dis­heart­ened when they dis­cov­ered go­ing wet did not au­to­mat­i­cally al­low on-premise liquor sales. Cities have to take a sec­ond step to al­low restau­rants and other hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses to serve liquor.

“They all serve mixed drinks; it’s a very prof­itable item for them,” Groom said.

Green­land lead­ers want those busi­nesses.

“Ge­o­graph­i­cally we’re in a re­ally, re­ally good spot. It would be a good rev­enue stream for us,” Groom said. “The ef­fort is not to serve al­co­hol, the ef­fort is to at­tract peo­ple in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. The back­bone of this thing is to make it fea­si­ble for them to come here.”

City lead­ers met with a state Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol rep­re­sen­ta­tive not long af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tion, said Brenda Reynolds,

“The ef­fort is not to serve al­co­hol, the ef­fort is to at­tract peo­ple in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. The back­bone of this thing is to make it fea­si­ble for them to come here.”

— Bill Groom, Green­land mayor

Plan­ning Com­mis­sion chair­man, who in her ca­pac­ity as a pri­vate cit­i­zen helped cir­cu­late the pe­ti­tion to get the is­sue on the bal­lot.

“That’s when they told us just be­cause you’re wet does not mean you can have busi­nesses that sell liquor by the drink,” Reynolds said.

There’s a dual process to ob­tain on-premises con­sump­tion rights, said Mary Robin Cas­teel, di­rec­tor of the state’s bev­er­age con­trol of­fice.

“The wet-dry vote does not au­tho­rize liquor by the drink be­cause there is an­other ac­tion that is re­quired,” Cas­teel said.

Reynolds said the ABC rep­re­sen­ta­tive told her and other city lead­ers a new vote would have to be done in Novem­ber 2018 to get liquor-by-the-drink sales au­tho­rized. Cas­teel said a new vote is not the only op­tion for au­tho­riza­tion.

“There can be ei­ther a vote or they can ap­prove liquor by the drink by or­di­nance,” Cas­teel said. “They do not have to have an­other vote.”

Groom spoke with Cas­teel on Fri­day.

“There is a new law that al­lows us to ad­dress that is­sue by or­di­nance as of July 31. That’s re­ally awe­some,” Groom said.

Act 875 of 2017 amended statute 3-9-203 of the Arkansas Code, al­low­ing any city, town, prop­erty as­so­ci­a­tion of 5,000 or more or county to au­tho­rize liquor by the drink through or­di­nance. That statute mod­i­fi­ca­tion was made on April 4, Cas­teel said.

Groom said he will ask the City Coun­cil today if it will con­sider an or­di­nance Aug. 14. Groom said the City Coun­cil will ap­prove such an or­di­nance.

“I know they will,” he said. Green­land is primed to be­come a hub for restau­rants such as Chili’s and Ap­ple­bee’s, as well as ho­tels, Groom said.

“There’s a lot of ac­ces­si­ble, de­vel­opable build­ing sites,” Groom said. “What I tell folks is the bad news is we haven’t been de­vel­oped, but the good news is we haven’t been de­vel­oped. We’ve got a lot to sell.”

Groom said be­cause Green­land is mere miles away from the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas in Fayet­teville, it is an ideal restau­rant and ho­tel des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors com­ing into town to watch the Ra­zor­backs play.

“Liquor by the drink is what en­tices ho­tels and restau­rants to come to your city. They want to be able to serve the whole spec­trum,” Groom said. “If we re­main sta­tus quo, it’s not go­ing to help us grow. We want to get di­ver­sity to help us cre­ate jobs.”

Groom said there have been dis­cus­sions with no­table restau­rants about com­ing to Green­land, but he said it is far too early to men­tion them by name.

Green­land res­i­dents want more din­ing op­tions and re­al­ized that the only way to at­tract chain restau­rants was to go wet, he said.

“The pe­ti­tion that was put forth to the cit­i­zens of Green­land was to en­cour­age restau­rant, gro­cery stores and de­vel­op­ment in the city of Green­land,” Reynolds said.

The pe­ti­tion had to ac­cu­mu­late sig­na­tures from 38 per­cent of Green­land res­i­dents who voted in the pre­vi­ous elec­tion to be­come an is­sue on the 2016 bal­lot.

Groom said one busi­ness in the city, Tobo’s Phillips 66 at 1200 W. Wil­son St., sells beer, but that busi­ness has not ap­plied for a li­cense to sell wine. A store em­ployee con­firmed the truck stop does sell beer and not wine.

Reynolds said it’s im­por­tant to keep sales tax rev­enue within Green­land in­stead of spend­ing it in neigh­bor­ing cities.

“The rea­son we care about this is­sue so much is we want restau­rants and gro­cery stores. We want to be able to eat and shop in our own home­town,” Reynolds said.

CON­NECT WITH US ON FACE­BOOK Share your thoughts on this and other sto­ries at face­book. com/nwademgaz

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.