The zoning rules, which still must be approved by the City Council to become law, are expected bring some current businesses in compliance with zoning rules; administrators say this will make it easier to attract new business. However, a public hearing about the new zoning rules in the city’s general business districts drew residents mainly concerned with a new restaurant’s liquor license.
The restaurant, Father and Son Grill, is expected to open May 24 in the building where the Rusty Spur Sports Bar previously resided. It is currently unable to get a liquor license because it sits in a general business district which doesn’t allow alcohol sales. Its predecessor mistakenly received one, though.
“Everybody’s experience is what was there before,” said Caron Duckworth, who lives on Evans Street near the new restaurant’s location. “There was some violence that went on there. The police were called more than one time.”
Clarence Duckworth was equally worried.
“I’m concerned about staying open until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning serving alcohol; having a bunch of drunks in the neighborhood at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
Board Chairman Tyrus Morgan said the new ordinance the City Council will consider was created to allow a wider variety of businesses within the general business district. That district's zoning covers the areas along Interstate 20 and nearly all business areas in the city except the downtown, according to the zoning map.
Morgan said the proposed zoning ordinance also attempts to address the residents' concerns about the restaurant.
It included a provision that would require businesses that offer liquor sales within 500 feet of a residence not operate “any percussive device or amplify the sound…between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday or between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.” It also requires the businesses to encourage patrons to use roads not immediately adjacent to residential neighborhoods.
Tommy Gaines, who owns the house next door to Father and Son Grill and Al Grizzard, a neighbor of the Duckworths, said they were fine with the new rules. Jeff McGowan, owner of the new restaurant, also supported them.
The Duckworths, however, were still worried the new restaurant will cause the same issues they experienced before, they said. They don’t want alcohol served at the new restaurant, and Clarence Duckworth said he didn’t have the opportunity to voice his opinion before the Rusty Spur opened.
The planning commission approved the proposed zoning changes 5-0. Commission member Beverly Casey abstained from the vote.
The proposal will go to the Heflin City Council for its review at the May 28 meeting, Smith said. The council members will schedule a public hearing on the issue, probably for June 11, he added.
Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.