Independence County Quorum Court refuses to consider private club application; county attorney says court not responsible for approval

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In a special meeting Thursday, the Independence County Quorum Court refused to approve an application for a private club permit.

It accepted county attorney Eric Hance’s interpretation of the state law enacted in 2017 that changed the procedure for obtaining a private club permit.

Hance said his reading of the act indicates the quorum court is not responsible for approving a permit before it goes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board.

He cites this portion of the law: “In an area in which the sale of intoxicating liquor has not been authorized by local option as provided under § 3-8-201 et seq., the application for a private club permit shall be submitted to the division and accompanied by an additional application fee of $1,500.”

The county has not authorized alcoholic beverages by local option, he said.

Beverly Greenfield requested the permit on behalf of a private club to be known as Red’s Hideaway Diner at 5315 North Central Ave. (Highway 69) north of Batesville and south of Cushman.

The legislature changed the law in 2017 to require approval by a county or city in which a proposed private club seeks to locate before it’s submitted to the ABC. Previously, the ABC would consider the permit first, doing background checks and receiving public input before granting a permit.

The quorum court tabled the request at its July 16 meeting in order to get more information.

Hance told the JPs Thursday that the ABC board’s attorney disagrees with his interpretation of the law. However, Hance said he consulted with an attorney with the Arkansas Association of Counties, and he agreed with Hance’s assessment.

Hance also said expects there will be an effort to clarify the statute in the 2019 legislative session.

On a motion by JP Wanda Pomeroy, the court voted unanimously to not consider the application.

Reporting by Bob Qualls

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