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Council OK’s new liquor store

Aldermen Preston Lewis and Burch Johnson look at the artist’s rendering of what a new liquor store will look like built on Tract D, jest south of Starbucks. Developers Todd and Don Sears are constructing the 100,000 square foot business. Johnson said he’d received a few complaints about it but said the demand is there and “we need to meet the demand.” Bill Lawson
Aldermen Preston Lewis and Burch Johnson look at the artist’s rendering of what a new liquor store will look like built on Tract D, jest south of Starbucks. Developers Todd and Don Sears are constructing the 100,000 square foot business. Johnson said he’d received a few complaints about it but said the demand is there and “we need to meet the demand.” Bill Lawson

During its Monday meeting the Maumelle City Council approved the construction of a new liquor store on Maumelle Boulevard just south of Starbucks while it considered a range of business and heard reports on activities around the city.

Developers Todd and his father Don Sears had gotten the approval of the Maumelle Planning Commission at its last meeting and there was no opposition or anyone speaking against the location of a liquor store there.

The site will not be approachable from the Boulevard but the entrance will be off Commons Drive. Mayor Mike Watson pointed out that there would be a vacant lot between the new liquor store and Starbucks.

With a 10,000 square-foot building there’ll be plenty of room for the business to expand as well as to store old liquor boxes. Council members said they’ve received a few complaints about the current liquor store on Club Manor Drive that stacks empty boxes outside to donate to charities and people moving.

A few eyebrows were also raised when the developers representative Mark Bingamen said the building would be a metal building with a brick veneer covering. He had to explain that brick veneer is real bricks and that is the construction term used to describe most buildings built today that are called brick. A traditional brick building is the old style of construction, one alderman explained, that has three or four layers of brick. Brick veneer represents one layer of brick applied to a wood or metal building.

Although no one spoke against the plans, several council members had questions about the need for such a big liquor store.

Alderman Burch Johnson said the demand is there whether you like it or not.

Alderman Steve Mosley said he polled several hundred constituents and received only three e-mails about it in response that were opposed to it.

Because Track D is zoned as a planned commercial development (PCD) it requires a conditional use permit that the ordinance authorized.

Alderman Ken Saunders said the current liquor store on Club Manor that will be moving to this new location donates those cardboard boxes outside to churches and others to use. He said it sounds more like a public service than a problem.

Johnson said he goes by to get boxes to keep in the back of the bus he drives for Academics Plus Charter School to dispose of trash.

Watson noted the business still needed its regulatory state approval before it could move.

Another ordinance was approved granting a similar waiver and approval for a Health Education Facility in an area zoned as Industrial 1.

Bingamen also represented Chris Avery who has the franchise to operate the business in Maumelle that is wall-to-wall trampolines. They are used for exercise classes, team sports and just for fun, he said. Target audience for the business is older teens and young adults although the building will be rented out for birthday parties for younger children, he said.

Avery operates a similar business in Memphis and Tulsa that are also located in industrial areas because of the need for higher ceiling like the 20-foot ceilings in this building.

Maumelle’s fire marshal John Payne wouldn’t sign off on the plans until the maximum amount of overhead sprinkler systems were included, Jim Narey told the council. He said the builder agreed to that request.

In other business the council approved an ordinance accepting dedication of streets and drainage into the city for Phase 4 of Osage Terrace.

The council also approved spending federal grant money from last year to finish placing new computers in area police vehicles.

Watson said the money came through a Justice Assistance Grant and if the city didn’t spend it on what it was given for, the federal government would most likely ask for the money back.

He explained that designated funds not spent at the end of the year transfer into the city’s general fund account.

Although it wasn’t on the agenda, a lengthy discussion about the city’s relationship with Maumelle Water Management was discussed.

Watson said he’d spoken with MWM’s general manager Barry Heller and they have a lot going on right now including the establishment of customer advisory panels around the area, continued study of a possible opportunity for MWM to purchase water from Central Arkansas Water and efforts to improve the source of water through ground wells.

Alderman Steve Mosley said he was “very very disappointed” in the attitude of MWM. He called their response to the complaints a “hostile attitude.”

He said the water system is the number one complaint he receives from people in his ward.

Someone noted the city needed to appoint two new representatives to the MWM to meet with them because the current appointees are no longer on the council.

Johnson said he didn’t understand why MWM couldn’t be a part of the city.

“The two entities are both owned by the public so he sees no reason they can’t get together.”

Mosley also inquired about the legal process to eliminate MWM and make it a part of the city.

“There must be a legal way to do it; merge MWM into the city,” Mosley said.

Watson noted there’d have to be some form of payment to M WM for the infrastructure and equipment it already has in place.

Lewis warned MWM to be “very very careful” because he said “A committee won’t quell the out-lash from the public.”

Alderman Jan Hogue said she thought MWM had been holding back the city’s expansion, especially west in the industrial zone. She said MWM has no interest in expanding its sewer program.

Watson, Johnson, Alderman Caleb Norris and Hogue reported on their visit to Washington last week to attend the annual National League of Councils meeting and visits with members of Arkansas congressional delegation.

While everyone but Norris said they thought the trip was worth it, Norris said the verdict’s still out on that evaluation.

Johnson noted the city discussed financing and municipal bonds with Congressmen. He said they had been considering eliminating municipal bonds which city’s use to build its infrastructure.

Watson invited everyone to attend the city’s Easter Worship Services on March 31*** at 6:45 a.m. at Lake Willastein conducted by the First United Methodist Church of Maumelle and the children’s Easter Egg hunt the Saturday before. The egg hunt starts at 9 a.m. he said. Members of the Mayor’s Youth Council and others take about an hour and one-half to place the eggs but it only takes the kids about 90 seconds to pick them all up, he said. It will be held at the Rolling Oaks Soccer Park and children will be divided into three groups based upon their age, he said.

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*** This article has been corrected from its original version. Click here to view the correction notice.

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