HOLLY SPRINGS— After learning the owner of the property on Sixes Road where a liquor store is planned has a history of paying his property taxes late and selling to minors, Holly Springs staff recommended denial of the applicant’s request for a permit.
Community Development Director Nancy Moon told council members she and her staff recommended the permit denial after a title search showed there were tax liens on the property of the proposed store.
Moon said the city’s zoning ordinance requires compliance with Chapter 6 of the city’s municipal code, which says an alcohol permit can be denied if an applicant or their associates are “delinquent in the payment of any property tax or other tax or license fee payable to the city, the county or the state.”
The city council did not take action on the request Monday, but is expected to vote on whether to approve the permit in two weeks.
Several members of the Sixes community spoke out against the package store at Monday evening’s city council meeting, arguing that residents didn’t need another liquor store and that building one at the 700 Sixes Road location would detract from their community.
Sixes resident Debra Frieden said property owner Jay Patel’s store had a history of selling alcohol to minors, receiving numerous violations over the years when he ran a Shell station at the location.
City records show the store was cited for selling alcohol to minors on several occasions and even had its alcohol license suspended for 90 days after the store’s third offense in 2008.
“I’m very concerned about the package store proposal because of who’s involved,” she told council members. “I expect it to be run pretty much exactly the same way it was run before.”
She told council members the business owner had a history of selling to minors, paying taxes late and was even sued by the Georgia Lottery for more than $33,000 in 2011.
She also said she didn’t want a liquor store to be the first thing people see when they enter their community.
“The historic mill is such a beautiful and precious landmark,” Frieden said. “It’s what will greet everyone to Holly Springs and Sixes Road as future growth occurs.”
Frieden said she plans to request the creation of a historic district from Bridgemill to Marble Quarry to ensure that future developments are in line with the existing area.
Whatever encroaches into the area will have a lasting impact on how the rest of it is developed, she told council members as she asked them not to grant the permit.
Falls of Cherokee resident Mike Howe said even though their community is not within city limits, his neighbors have a vested interest in the fate of the abandoned gas station given its close proximity to their subdivision.
“We’re not overly thrilled about a package store being at that location,” he told them, adding that he understood it could happen and asked that council members include several stipulations should they decide to approve the store.
Howe said the development of that particular property could set the tone for the rest of the Sixes corridor and asked that council members thoroughly vet the applicant, owner and any business partners associated with the project before moving forward with a decision.
John Marinko, who serves as secretary for the Falls of Cherokee Homeowner’s Association expressed concerns that opening a liquor store so close to the Cherokee County Aquatic Center could entice children and young adults.
He said there were already enough package stores in the community and that Sixes Road didn’t need another one.
“Proper vetting is necessary,” he said. “I think that’s one of the hallmarks of ensuring a project is successful, economically, aesthetically and for the community.”
Barbara Kriner, who serves on the advisory board for the Sixes Community Coalition, asked that if council members approve the conditional use permit for the creation of a liquor store, that they ensure the finished product looks like the artist’s rendering of the store that was submitted to the city with the application.
“We’re happy with the design that was turned in,” she said. “We want it to look great and we want it to comply with what the old mill looks like. We want to be very country-looking, yet very professional.”
Moon said tax liens don’t necessary disqualify an applicant from receiving a conditional use permit and it will be up to city council members whether to issue one in two weeks.
“It is at the discretion of the city council whether or not to grant the conditional use permit pursuant to that code section,” Moon said.
The Sixes package store application is slated to come before city council members for a final vote Dec. 19.