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Business owner concerns delay church move plan

Business concerns, both spiritual and physical, were of concernduring Tuesday’s aldermen meeting.

The board of aldermen was expected to accept the decision by theBoard of Adjustment to allow a special exception to a city zoningordinance for the Brookway Church of Christ to be constructed in arestricted residential district on Natchez Drive, near Brookhill onNatchez. However, the church will have to wait at least a month topursue their new facility after the board delayed action on thematter during last night’s meeting.

Surinder Uppal, who owns a business that sells beer in the areaof where the church hopes to build, expressed concern for hisbusiness if the Brookway Church of Christ moves to NatchezDrive.

“The problem is not now, but if he sells the store then the newowner has to make (beer permit) application,” said Mayor LesBumgarner. “(The new owner) could possibly be stopped based onsignatures.”

A high percentage of signatures is required from surroundingproperty owners to obtain a beer permit. If Uppal were to sell hisbusiness after completion of the church, it would be hard for a newbusiness owner to acquire the signatures needed to obtain a beerpermit in a church community, which in turn could make it verydifficult for Uppal to sell his business.

Uppal requested a written letter from the church and anagreement with the city that a beer permit will be approved whenownership of his business is changed. He asked for the agreement tobe effective for a period of 30 years.

“I think the board understands that bringing the church inwithout some provisions to protect you would be unfair,” Bumgarnersaid to Uppal.

While the city and the church officials that were present seemedto have no problem with giving Uppal his letters, the letters wouldact as nothing more than comfort.

“He has a very legitimate concern,” said Ward Six Alderman DavidPhillips. “An action tonight could render his business worthless(in the future).”

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said he has received many callsabout the situation and asked the board to delay deciding on thematter. In a majority vote, the board agreed to delay any actionfor 30 days.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron voted against the delay. Hesaid he did not want to slow the church down in its process ofbuilding a new facility, and he trusted the Board of Adjustment’sdecision to allow for a special exception.

“I feel like when they make a recommendation to us, they dotheir leg work,” said Cameron.

Some aldermen expressed concern for the lack of legally bidingaction the letters would have. However, City Attorney Joe Fernaldassured him he would look into the matter.

“There are some third party things that could be done betweenthem that we could recognize,” said Fernald.