The City of Columbia's zoning board has rejected a request for an Olympia neighborhood convenience store to expand and open a liquor store.
On Tuesday morning, the city board of zoning appeals unanimously rejected a request for a zoning exception from the owners of the Shiv Food Mart at 631 Whaley St. The applicant — Hashmukhbai Parekh — was seeking permission to relocate the convenience store onto an adjacent parcel and use the existing convenience store space as a liquor store.
The board's denial of the liquor store request came after several neighbors at the meeting strongly expressed their opposition to the proposal.
The Shiv Mart and proposed liquor store location is at the corner of Whaley and Wayne streets. To the east of the property is the event space 701 Whaley, across the street to the southeast is the Southside Baptist Church and across the street to the southwest are The Mills, the sprawling student housing development.
Parekh was not present at Tuesday's meeting. A spokeswoman for him noted to the board that the Shiv Mart already has had a beer and wine license for nearly two decades, that there is sufficient parking space on the site and that the proprietors would keep it clean.
However, neighbors weren't on board with the request.
Vi Hendley, of the Olympia Residents Council, told the zoning board that Olympia has a "burgeoning university population" and that putting a liquor store directly across the street from the crowded Mills complexes could prove troublesome.
"University students comprise a large majority of our neighborhood residents during the academic school year," Hendley says. "This population is known to purchase alcohol using fake identification, and binge drink. Once impaired, the students drive under the influence, which results in increased rates of pedestrian and vehicular accidents.
"While walking under the influence they disrupt the neighborhood with rude and obnoxious behaviors, including littering, yelling, fighting, playing loud and obscene music, passing out in the streets or on front porches and in yards, throwing up and urinating in public."
Hendley also noted she thinks there are enough liquor stores nearby, pointing out that Green's is about a half-mile from the Shiv Mart site.
Attorney Bob Guild lives in the Granby Mill Village and is the president of its neighborhood association. He told the zoning board he was troubled by the fact that the three nearby neighborhood associations have not been approached by the would-be liquor store's owners.
"We believe that this expansion of the property and [addition of] a liquor store is incompatible with our long-term interest as a community," Guild says.
Larry Gamble lives a couple blocks away from the Shiv Mart, on Parker Street, and goes to the Southside Baptist Church. He said he was "strictly opposed" to a liquor store being located at the Shiv Mart site and added, "As y'all know, liquor does not breed good habits."
Zoning board member Gene Dinkins said he had several problems with the request, including that the liquor store would have been in direct proximity of a church and near two parks or greenspaces, and added that it would not be "in character with the adjacent neighborhoods' overall plans."
The city, county and nearby neighborhoods have been collaborating for some time on a Capital City Mill District Plan that charts development goals for the area heading into the future.