Neighbors oppose liquor store reopening

The years haven’t made many friends for a Turpin Hill neighborhood liquor store.

 

Eleven years since she protested what was then Lion Package Store obtaining a liquor license, Belle Clark and six neighbors are back and again opposed to the store selling liquor at 2102 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

“I’m no stranger to this agenda item,” Clark, now president of Turpin Hill Neighborhood Association 1, told commissioners last week. “We’ve come to make it known we don’t want 2102 open again on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.”

In 2006, Clark expressed the same when commissioners voted 6-1 to approve the store at the urging of then-Commissioner Betty Beard, who was selling the family business of 25 years to new owner Tsegai Wasse, according to The Augusta Chronicle’s archives.

Prior votes on the license had prompted commission abstentions and gridlock that helped lead to a court battle over the meaning of an abstention. The Georgia Supreme Court determined that an abstention has no value, and that Augusta’s mayor can’t assign a value to it.

Marcus Bush, who wants to open the store as Bush’s Package, said he’d maintain rules for the store and its parking lot. “It’s a bad look if you’ve got people hanging around,” Bush said.

Commissioners Marion Williams and Sammie Sias said they’ll likely side with the neighbors.

The location has a long history of customers being allowed to drink on premises, or behind the store, Williams said.

“This has been a dreadful situation for many, many years,” he said.

“I’ve always supported the neighborhoods when they have issues,” said Sias.

In another matter, Sias’ proposal to place a $25,000 cap on all city general fund contributions to nonprofit groups, with three exceptions, is drawing attention as it goes on the commission’s consent agenda Tuesday.

Former Commissioner Moses Todd said he was told the new rule means a 90 percent budget cut for Richmond County Medical Society Project Access. The commission cut funds for the program, which steers indigent patients to volunteer physicians and programs, by $70,000 in this year’s budget.

Excepted from the cap are the Augusta-Richmond County Museum of History and Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, which can request up to $125,000, and the Greater Augusta Arts Council, which can receive up to $143,420.

“All those others are a want. Project Access is a need,” Todd said.

Also on the commission consent agenda is authorizing the city law office to draft a rule requiring all garbage produced in Augusta to go to the Augusta landfill.

The 2 p.m. commission meeting will be held at Lee Beard Commission Chamber in the Augusta Municipal Building, 535 Telfair St. It follows a 1 p.m. meeting of the city pension and audit committee.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

 

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