Hart County Board of Commissioners
February 18th, 2003
The Hart County Board of Commissioners held a called meeting February 18th, 2003 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hart County Administrative & Emergency Services Center.
Chairman Randy Banister called the meeting to order and announced the purpose of the meeting is to reconsider Joe Crowe/Crowe’s Nest Beer & Wine application that was denied on January 28th, 2003 as requested by Mr. Crowe.
Chairman Banister gave an opening statement and cautioned those attending that there will be no outbursts. He stated that comments concerning beer and wine or alcohol in general are not relevant to the Crowe’s application.
Chairman Banister asks County Administrator, Gary Cobb, to complete the record on the decision of February 11th, 2003.
Administrator Cobb introduced and gave copies to the Board and to Mr. Crowe the following:
A) The January 28th, 2003 minutes showing the grounds for denial
B) The letters notifying Mr. Crowe of the denial
C) The Crowe's letter of appeal
D) The letter notifying Mr. Crowe of the appeal hearing
Chairman Banister turned the floor over to Mr. Crowe, as applicant, for the presentation of evidence in support of the application.
Mr. Crowe remarked that he stands for Americanism and for people’s rights. He asked Chairman Banister if it still stands as it did before that he hasn't complied with the ordinance. He stated that he does have a right to have a license, other than what the Board has said as far as evidence against it. He said they have done everything that was asked of them to do.
Chairman Banister quoted the sections of the ordinance that were used to deny the application as follows:
· The nature of and effect on the neighborhood adjacent to the business
· Evidence presented to the Board of Commissioners in opposition of issuance of the license
Mr. Crowe responded that the nature of and effect on the neighborhood adjacent to the business was speculation of what would happen; and nature of and effect on the neighborhood would be more for a renewal application. He stated that his rights have been violated, he was discriminated against, and he was set aside and singled out because he has complied with the rules and regulations.
Mr. Crowe addressed some of the things that were said at the last meeting starting with Judge Bryant's comments, spoken on behalf of the neighborhood. Judge Bryant's previous comment were he strongly opposed the location of the building, that the facility would devalue property in the area and he requested that the ordinance be amended the distance requiring 350’ from a residence. Mr. Crowe further stated that zoning and a lot of problems in the neighborhood, which had nothing to do with them, was discussed in the January 28th, 2003 meeting.
Mr. Crowe stated that he does not promote alcohol however; people have a right to break the law if they are willing to pay the consequences for breaking the law. He addressed the statement that Dean Kring made at the January 28th meeting that alcohol is a mind-altering substance and about drinking and driving. Adding that was Mr. Kring’s personal opinion. He added that he takes social responsibility to promote designated drivers in anyplace that serves alcohol.
Mr. Crowe asked the Chairman if he had a personal conviction that alcohol is totally wrong for everybody. The Chairman responded that the purpose of the hearing is for Mr. Crowe to present evidence to support his position.
Mr. Crowe said he did not understand why the board voted unanimously to renew the VFW’s beer and wine application.
Mr. Crowe said he has improved the building and the property and he does not understand the evidence used against him.
Charlotte Crowe said the area is not strictly residential. She did not see evidence that it was the wrong type of facility in the location. She added that there is a boat storage facility, a golf cart facility in the area, a vacant building and rusted gas tanks before you get to the entrance of Mattie’s Orchard.
She said the Crowe’s Nest is a restaurant with three pool tables and a jukebox, which people come in to have fun from 7 to 70 years old. She said they have not had an effect on the neighborhood. She said she did not believe they have been given the proper right and that they are concerned about the neighborhood.
Mr. Crowe remarked that the evidence is concrete against them; he said they have complied with the ordinance, made improvements and have not had any problems.
Charles Ledford spoke on behalf of Joe Crowe supporting his right to obtain a beer and wine license. He said the previous meeting was an embarrassment to listen to. He said the show of hands in the crowd was out of order. He said Judge Bryant dictated to the Board, that they knew what they had to do. He added that the Board members are not on the Judge’s payroll that they work for the citizens of the county. He said the Crowe’s deserves a chance to see if the business works.
Mr. Ledford said everyone deserves the freedom and the potential to do whatever is possible in this country. He added that the Board needed to vote accordingly, not according to public opinion.
Clara Bowers Bostic said she was here on behalf of the U.S. Constitution. She said if the Crowe’s have met all the criteria of the beer and wine ordinance they should not be discriminated against. She said it is their rights, adding that there is a separation between church and state.
Chairman Banister asked those in attendance whether they wished to offer evidence in support of the application. No one came forward. He then asked if there were persons present who wished to offer evidence in opposition.
Vince Latone remarked that Old Hwy 29 area of Hart County is residential. He said the Crowe’s do not own property in the area and therefore, do not have a vested interest in maintaining its integrity as a peaceful residential neighborhood. He added that putting a bar in the middle of Old Hwy 29 area would cause irreversible harm. He asked the board to protect the citizens instrusted in their care from this harm.
Mr. Crowe responded that Mr. Latone has the right to his opinion. He said they could handle being in the neighborhood and would compliment it.
Mrs. Crowe clarified Mr. Latone's reference to the facility being a bar. She stated that the facility is a restaurant.
Judge Bryant remarked that he did not know the Crowe’s and had nothing against them. He addressed the comment regarding “rights”. He said he didn’t have a right to anything except what’s stated in the Constitution. He said that he read the beer & wine ordinance and didn’t read anything in it that said anyone has a right to a beer and wine license because they are an American or fought in the war. He said it’s not discrimination to deny someone a beer & wine license in a residential neighborhood.