Liquor store zoning cases almost always cause major headaches for the Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) and the Shreveport City Council. And such is the case with the recent highly publicized application by Lakeshore Liquor to open a liquor store on the southeast corner of Gilbert and Kings Highway.
Two tie votes by the Council on Tuesday left standing the MPC decision to grant a special use permit to allow the sale of high content alcohol at the old Circle K location.
The sale of beer and wine is allowed under the current zoning. The special use was required for liquor sales.
After the vote, all parties involved left unhappy.
Bernie Woods, the owner of Lakeshore, complained of the site plan improvements mandated by the MPC approval.
Neighborhood residents were devastated by the failure of the Council to deny the special use permit.
The Council’s decisions, both on the site improvements and the special use permit, can be appealed within 30 days to the Caddo district court.
An appeal by Woods will probably be unsuccessful.
The mandated site improvements are consistent with the new Circle K that is on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Kings Highway and the Valvoline (formerly Time It Lube) on the southwest corner of that intersection.
The limitation of hours of operation from 8 am until midnight versus 24 hours a day are also reasonable. Woods himself testified at the Council that he would probably be open from 10 am to 9 pm, maybe 10 pm at most.
The MPC requirements to close the westernmost driveway are needed due to heavy traffic on Gilbert. And the other requirements for fence repair, landscaping, irrigation, etc are consistent with all new site plans under the UDC.
From the perspective of the neighborhood residents, there may be some basis for judicial relief. The emphasis here is on “may”.
The UDC requires, the MPC Board to consider the following factors before granting a special use permit: (1) whether it is an appropriate activity at the proposed location based on the UDC and standard zoning practices, (2) how it might impact the neighboring land uses and the health, safety and welfare of the public, and (3) whether any negative impacts can be successfully mitigated.
The MPC Board also has the authority to add conditions and restrictions upon the establishment, location, construction, maintenance and operation of the special use permit to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public when necessary.
There are several businesses within a 1 block radius of the location that sell beer and wine. These include Brookshire’s Grocery, Chevron Gas Station and Convenience Store(REMOVE?), and the Circle K Gas Station and Convenience Store. However, none of these retailers sell liquor.
This site will become the first along this stretch of Kings Highway to sell hard alcohol. Other alcohol retailers are farther away, but also in the area. These include: Super 1 Foods and Wal-Mart on Shreveport-Barksdale Highway, and CVS at 3300 Youree Drive. Of these, only Wal-Mart sells liquor.
The MPC staff report noted that, despite neighborhood opposition, that “with a single liquor store retailer in the general area, it is difficult to provide a compelling reason, from a land use perspective, to recommend denial of the application.” The report noted that the required site improvements and limitation on hours of operation should lessen the impact of this land use.
There is little doubt that a liquor store is incompatible with the mixed residential use of the entire block on Kings Highway from Centenary to Gilbert. However, a liquor store probably is consistent with the retail establishments on King Highway to the west of Gilbert.
Aggressive litigation by the residents may be successful from the point of view of delay and cost to Woods.
Litigation can easily take a year before judicial resolution, and the costs for attorney fees and court costs can be daunting. Additionally, an adverse decision to the residents at the trial level can be appealed, which would further impede the opening of the store.
This case will be interesting to follow, if for no other reason to see how the UDC and the votes of the Council, will be reviewed by the court(s).
For those expecting a new place to buy a pint on the corner of Kings Highway, they best keep on driving, because it will be a while. Like in a long while.
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