Residents, community leaders and elected officials rejoiced when it was announced that a controversial planned liquor store was denied a liquor license by the State Liquor Authority last Friday.
“Unfortunately, a lot of times when we do these sort of things, it’s bad news but today it’s good news,” Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said at a press conference.
The event was held at the site of the proposed liquor store at Springfield Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue right across the street from Springfield Gardens High School.
“These people had the audacity to try and build a liquor store that is across the street from our children,” Fay Hill, of the Friends of Springfield Park, said. “It deters from their education and their future. We need quality of life in a community and we are going to implement quality of life in our community.”
The controversy first arose in the winter when Richards found out that a mall that was being constructed half a block away from the high school would have, among others, a liquor store for a tenant.
Almost immediately, he and other community leaders gathered and began pressuring the State Liquor Authority to deny the license request submitted by the tenants.
“We stand together as a community,” Richards said. “The truth is, we are attentive, we know our rights and we will speak up. The audacity of the owners of this liquor store was met with petitions and a large call of disapproval.”
Neither the store nor the property owners could be reached for comment.
According to state law, a liquor store may not be built within 200 feet of a place of worship or a school. Technically, as the proposed liquor store would have stood in the middle of the strip mall on North Conduit, the store would have been built outside of the 200-foot boundary and the owners were within their legal rights.
But Richards said that is beyond the point.
“They were in their legal right,” he said. “Typically there is a 99 percent chance that these stores will go up when they apply for a license but the state heard our calls. But I’m here to say that we need stricter policies on where liquor stores can and cannot go. They should be mandated to come before the Community Board and we should double the distance boundary. Let’s make it 400 feet.”
Other tenants of the shopping center include a Dunkin’ Donuts, Popeye’s Chicken and a laundromat. Richards is not thrilled with the idea of fast-food establishments either.
“I don’t necessarily like Dunkin’ Donuts because it is not a healthy choice,” he said. “Maybe a place that sells fruits and vegetables would be better but I prefer a Dunkin’ Donuts to a liquor store.”
Richards said he will be sitting down with the building owners as well as the owners of the proposed liquor store, who have signed a lease for the space already.
“Maybe placing something here that would benefit the community like a library or tutoring center would better suit the area but I can assure you that there will be no liquor store, ever,” he said.