A Harlem church official is unhappy that rules governing how distances are measured for alcohol licenses were changed and that a nearby bed and breakfast was approved to serve alcohol.
In June, Harlem officials voted to change the measuring method used for alcohol license applications. The alcohol ordinance requires that an establishment be at least 100 yards from a church building, city park, playground or alcohol treatment facility, or at least 200 yards from a school building.
Distances initially were measured from the front door of an establishment to the nearest property line of churches or schools.
The Acorn Restaurant at Red Oak Manor, on North Louisville Street, was not eligible for an alcohol license because it was too close to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One home sits between the front of the two properties, but the back of the church property touches Red Oak property.
In June, city officials changed the method of measurement in the ordinance to mirror state laws, City Attorney Barry Fleming said.
The change would allow city officials to measure distances from the front door of the licensed establishment along a sidewalk or roadside, to the front door of the church, school or other restricted site.
The church's bishop, Mark Anderson, said his church would obey the laws of the land.
"The next month, the laws of the land changed," he said at a Monday city council meeting.
In June, Red Oak applied for an alcohol license and city officials voted to approve the license at Monday's meeting.
Anderson said his church and Red Oak Manor are the only properties affected by the change, and he thinks the ordinance modification has something to do with the fact that former Harlem Mayor and current Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean is part owner of Red Oak Manor.
"We feel like the good ol' boy system is involved here," Anderson said.
Fleming said the change affects not only the two properties, but a convenience store next to a church on Milledgeville Road and future developments.
"It affects anybody in this town that has an establishment anywhere near a church," Fleming said. "Anybody who opens up a restaurant adjacent to a property where a church is."
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