Montgomery City Council may give billiard hall owner second chance at liquor license
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
A Montgomery City Council vote to deny a new business's liquor license now has some members re-thinking their decision. The council voted 5 to 3 Tuesday night to deny a lounge license to a business owner who wants to open a pool hall on Woodmere Boulevard. That's just off the Eastern Boulevard near the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Blount Cultural Park.
Nearby residents urged the denial out of fear they have that the pool hall would be a nuisance. But the council members who voted "for" the liquor license say the ones who denied it overstepped their bounds.
Many people may remember the building which used to be Woodmere Tavern. The new owner named it Corner Pocket and turned it into a billiards hall. He can still operate, because his business license is already approved. But when it comes to selling liquor, he's out of luck.
The owner might not be out of luck for long, however, and may even get a second chance to obtain the license he needs.
"5 and 3, so the motion to deny carries," the city council said Tuesday night. With that the council closed the book on the business owner's attempts to sell liquor in his pool hall, or did it?
Councilman Glen Pruitt, who originally voted to deny the license, spoke up after casting a 'no' vote saying he would like to change his mind, and his vote. Pruitt raised questions during the meeting about the council's authority to deny a business a liquor license if the business showed no signs of concern.
"What does this do to us legally?"
The business owner has already renovated the space, pool tables are in place, TV's are on the wall. "As you can see I've made the place nice," owner Jerry Meeks explained.
Council President Charles Jinright says his 'no' vote was based on other questionable businesses in the building before Corner Pocket. The business is in his district.
"There's been a good bit of problems with the neighborhood in that particular location for bad outcomes with a liquor license," Jinright said, adding that his decision came after listening to nearby residents who want the area around Blount Cultural Park to be revamped.
"There will be loud noise accompanied by loud jukebox or other music," he explained.
"It wasn't gonna help it. And that's the feeling of the neighborhood."
Meeks says his attorney advised him not to comment on the ongoing matter. In the council meeting, though, he assured residents he wanted the business to mirror the old Woodmere Tavern. He says he lowered the space's occupancy level from nearly 400 people to 100 and has no plans to turn it into a night club.
President Jinright says since the meeting council members have been talking. He expects the council to revisit their denial of Meeks' liquor license.
"If somebody that's on the prevailing side wants to bring it back up, it could come back up for a vote before the council for reversal of what has happened," Jinright said.
Recently the Montgomery City Council has been closely scrutinizing applications for liquor lounge licenses. Jinright says this is a result of efforts to crack down on bars that turn into nightclubs when they're not supposed to. Councilman Jinright says even if the item does come up again, his vote will remain the same "no".
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