By Stephanie Johns
Members of the Morgan County Planning Commission voted ‘no recommendation’ regarding a petition from Mike Conrads for a conditional use permit to allow Georgia Military College (GMC) at 235 S. Main St. in Madison.
“GMC believes this property will work for them for the next five years,” he said. “Their current lease is up in August. We’re working to get them into this property.”
Commission member Connie Booth noted that the school was going in across from a convenience store that planned to sell alcohol.
She said that the Madison zoning ordinance specifically prohibited alcohol sales within 300 feet of an educational institution or college campus as well as other organizations such as churches.
Conrads said, “That is not an issue for me or the applicant.”
City Planner Bryce Jaeck said he thought it depended on which was there first: if a school chose to move close to where an establishment sold alcohol then it was allowed. It was only when a business selling alcohol wanted to move to a location within 300 feet of an established school that it was prohibited.
He said the city’s legal counsel might need to look into this specific situation.
Commission member Faye Craft, who serves as manager at the Madison ChopHouse Grille, said if the commission allowed the school to go in it might pose a problem for the business when it went to renew its license.
The commission’s unanimous ‘no recommendation’ vote included a request that the city “look at its ordinance with an eye toward accommodating this asset.”
During a later phone interview Jaeck said the convenience store already has received its alcohol license.
As to whether having a school in close proximity to the store might prevent the store from getting that license renewed, Jaeck said it didn’t work that way.
If it did then anti-alcohol churches could move in next to places that sell alcohol one year and thereby put them out of business when the business sought to have its license renewed simply by being in proximity, he said.