Residents Concerned About Planned Liquor Store Near School

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JEFFERSON CITY - Residents near West Elementary School said Tuesday they are concerned about the possibility of a liquor store being put in near the school. The Jefferson City Board of Adjustment will hold a public hearing May 14 to allow citizens to voice opinions.

Peggy Davis lives in a nearby neighborhood and said the location of the store would be inappropriate.

"I'm not anti-business," Davis said. "I used to have a retail store and so you always want people to do well and you want the town to benefit with taxes, benefit the schools and everybody. The thing is, it's not appropriate, I think, and they should look at doing other businesses that will bring up the neighborhood."

The sign in front of the vacant building reads "Conditional Use Permit to Operate a Retail Liquor Store." City Director of Planning and Protective Services Janice McMillan said the area is a neighborhood commercial district, meaning retail stores are permitted. However, a stand-alone liquor store requires a conditional use permit. This means, the board of adjustment must consider a list of conditions before issuing a permit. The description on the store's application calls the store a "fine wine and liquor store."

The main concern of the residents KOMU 8 News spoke with is that the location is so close to the elementary school.

"It just doesn't make sense...with the West School Elementary students within a few hundred feet of the store," Davis said. "Also, just the way it's configured up there, it's very congested especially when school's letting out or when parents are bringing their kids to school and the sidewalks are right next to the street. So, it's just a situation waiting to happen."

Jonathon Wingate works at a nearby business and doesn't rule out the idea that the store could be an asset, but he said he has some concerns.

"It could help the area, bring in new people to the area, bring in more customers, provide jobs," Wingate said. "But, they need to be careful about what they carry and their target audience."

However, Wingate agrees that the proximity to the school is concerning.

"Since it's so close to the school I know that's going to be an issue because it could bring in shady types,' Wingate said. "So, it'd cause a lot of parents to worry about what kind of people are going to be in this area and around their kids every day." 

The hearing will take place on May 14 at 7:30 a.m. in the council chamber. McMillan said people are welcome to attend to testify about the issue or may call or email with concerns.

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