Greenwood residents couldn’t stop a 24-hour, 20-pump gas station from being built next to a subdivision, middle school and church, but now they’re asking elected officials for help in getting the station’s request to sell alcohol denied.
The Greenwood City Council voted unanimously in favor of asking the county’s appointed alcohol beverage commission to deny an alcohol sales permit to the Circle K gas station at the intersection of Worthsville and Sheek roads. The gas station could sell beer and wine if the alcohol permit is approved.
On Feb. 8, the alcohol beverage commission will decide on Circle K’s request to sell alcohol. But before a final decision is made, the residents who asked the city council for support will be making the same argument, requesting that the permit be denied. Circle K declined to comment.
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About 1,000 residents from subdivisions near Circle K have signed a petition against the sale of alcohol at the gas station. But getting the message to the alcohol beverage commission board will take more than signatures, Central Park resident Angela Stelljes said. In order for their request to have an impact, residents need support from their elected officials, Stelljes said.
Stelljes and fellow Central Park resident, Randy Goodin, who serves as the president of the Concerned Citizens of Southeast Greenwood, both spoke to the city council on behalf of their neighborhood and nearby subdivisions.
“I’m Angela, a massage therapist. My title doesn’t carry as much weight even though I’ve spent countless hours going door-to-door around my neighborhood. But those people who actually have a title behind their name in city office have a much stronger voice,” Stelljes said.
On Monday night, they got that support. The city council plans to pass its recommendation along to the alcohol beverage commission board and some members may attend the meeting, city council president Mike Campbell said. But that is the most the city council can do since they don’t approve alcohol permits, Campbell said.
According to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, a business can be denied an alcohol permit if the neighborhood and/or community do not want alcohol to be sold, selling alcohol would have a negative impact on other businesses or the neighborhood, or, if the location where alcohol is sold is within 200 feet of a church or school.
The gas station is about 380 feet from Clark Pleasant Intermediate School and 410 feet from the Light of Life Lutheran Church, Stelljes said.
If the application for a permit is denied, the alcohol beverage commission has to list the reasons why, which can include evidence provided by the community, such as residents and the city council who are requesting it be denied, according to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
But unless laws or restrictions are being broken or violated by the gas station selling alcohol, the county alcohol beverage commission likely won’t deny the permit, said John Bonsett, director of environmental health in Johnson County.
That’s why residents opposed to the sale of alcohol at Circle K sought the support of city council members. Having city officials’ support will show the alcohol beverage commission it isn’t just a small group of residents from one or two neighborhoods who are against Circle K selling alcohol, but rather an entire city, Central Park resident Mark Wiggam said.
Selling alcohol presents risks, such as increased crime in the nearby subdivisions, Goodin said. And with a middle school and a church on opposite corners of the gas station, along with at least three subdivisions within a half-mile radius, it also poses a threat to children, Goodin said.
A pastor at the Light of Life Lutheran Church asked that the city approve a recommendation that Circle K be denied an alcohol permit, Campbell said.
“It’s right in a residential area with a church on one side and a school on the other. The sale of alcohol just doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the area,” Campbell said. “As elected officials, we are their representatives. So we’re trying to add our opinion on this and a little bit of weight to their opposition.”
Council member Bruce Armstrong lives near the Circle K and said he signed the petition as a resident.
The hope is that the alcohol commission board will see that not only residents, but elected officials, too, are against the sale of alcohol at the gas station and that influences a decision to deny Circle K an alcohol permit, council member Ezra Hill said.
In August, more than 100 residents attended city council meetings to protest the construction of the gas station. At the time, Greenwood officials agreed and empathized with the concerns, but couldn’t do anything to stop the construction of the gas station because the property had been previously zoned for that type of commercial use.
But this issue is different than the construction of the gas station, and having council members join residents in support is huge, Goodin said.
“They can’t dictate the decision, but they can show the county that the city stands in unison with its citizens,” Goodin said.
“We are in agreement: we don’t need this.”