First permit approved

At their meeting Tuesday, members of the Greenville City Council approved the city’s first request for a permit to open a liquor store since residents approved of retail hard liquor sales in the November election.

At their meeting Tuesday, members of the Greenville City Council approved the city’s first request for a permit to open a liquor store since residents approved of retail hard liquor sales in the November election.

The conditional use permit was sought by Segovia Retail Group, representing the owners of the Greenville Promenade (formerly Crossroads Mall), to open a Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods store in the now-vacant space formerly occupied by the Bealls department store that closed this past fall.

The city council’s approval of the request came one day after the Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation for approval. However, P&Z’s recommendation came with the caveat that Spec's does not use the company’s mascot – a somewhat Bugs Bunny-like rabbit wearing glasses and a bow tie – in its signage, with the case being made that the logo could appeal to children.

Similarly, at Tuesday’s city council meeting, resident Ilia Powell expressed concern about some of the answers on the application for the permit, which she saw as insufficient, about explaining how the liquor store would fit within the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I was looking at what was turned in … especially number five, which asks, ‘Does the proposed use present a significant benefit to the public health, safety and welfare of the community?’ and … ‘how will it contribute to the city’s long term economic wellbeing?” Powell said. “The answer provided was this, ‘The project will be something new for Greenville and will be the first of its kind.’

“It doesn’t tell me what kind of tax revenue this will bring … it doesn’t provide anything good or negative for the welfare of the community,” Powell continued. “While I have my own feelings on what it provides for the community as far as welfare … I’m asking the council to table this until the applicant or the city does the research to say how this impacts us.”

After Powell spoke, Greenville Community Development Director Steve Methven came forward as being the individual who had filled out the application for the conditional use permit and explained that he was “looking at it as a retail storefront” and that Spec’s “as an upper-end liquor store” could bring more business to the rest of the stores located in the Promenade.

As the council continued to discuss the item, multiple members voiced support for the prospective business since it was following the retail liquor ordinance approved by the community in the November election.

“Our job now, since this is something that’s been approved by the public, is just zoning,” Councilman Brent Money said. “It’s not the council’s place to say ‘you shouldn’t have this.’”

Regarding P&Z’s recommendation about Spec’s signage, councilmen Money and Jerry Ransom as well as Mayor David Dreiling made comments indicating that they didn’t have a problem with the inclusion of the rabbit, so the application was approved without any special condition being made about the proposed store’s signage.

“We spent a lot of time ensuring that our ordinance, with liquor stores going in, was in complete compliance with TABC’s rules … There was just over 67 percent of the people who voted that said yes, that they wanted [liquor stores] to go in,” Dreiling said. “In my opinion, as long as [the sign] is not racist, and as long as it’s not vulgar, then it’s fine.”

After discussion, the council voted unanimously in favor of approving the conditional use permit.

In response to the city council not amending the item with any caveats regulating Spec’s signage, Powell posted a petition on www.change.org Thursday (the direct link to the specific petition is https://bit.ly/3bC96zz) to gather community support “to ask Spec's and the Greenville, Texas city mayor and council members to exclude the ‘cute’ bunny from their store sign.”

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Travis Hairgrove is a news reporter and features writer at the Herald-Banner and covers city government for many municipalities in Hunt County. To reach him outside of business hours, email THairgroveReporter@gmail.com.

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