Saturday, June 10, 2023

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Planning board split on bottle-bar rezoning

Burlington’s planning board was divided over the wisdom of recommending a rezoning request to permit a so-called “bottle shop,” which members summarized by calling a “bar,” in an area near a children’s learning center and another business catering to children.

The bottle shop would also allow “on-premise consumption,” it was noted.

The request centered on an empty office front with 2,700 square feet along Garden Road beside the Allen Tate Realty office. The rezoning request was approved by the planning board, 4-2.

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But what concerned two members of the planning board was the bar’s presence just around the corner of the same structure from where a Sylvan Learning Center and Lee Brothers Martial Arts Studio are located.

“I have a problem with alcohol near young children,” said planning board member John Black.
Jeff Deal, a realtor with Massey Real Estate, made the presentation to the planning board, assuring its members that the proposed bottle shop would be “winding down by 9:00 p.m.”

While he described the bar as offering beer and wine, planning director Jamie Lawson noted that the city’s ordinance defines a bottle shop as including the possibility of selling liquor as well.

Lawson noted that the “limited uses” being requested with the rezoning had eliminated 51 potential uses out of the city’s list of 119 possible uses. But any of the other 68 uses would be allowed, which included the bottle shop that Deal described as the intended tenant.

The city requires 200 feet between a bar and churches, or childcare or child-related businesses. Neither Deal nor Lawson said they had measured the distance between the entrance to the proposed bottle shop and the two businesses around the corner in the same structure.

Planning board member Lee Roane moved for the approval of the rezoning request, which was seconded by James Kirkpatrick, the board’s vice chairman. Voting in favor were Roane, Kirkpatrick, planning board chairman Richard Parker, and Charlie Beasley. Voting no were Black and Joan Zec Nelson.

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