Residents in two parts of Columbia have successfully protested liquor stores planned for their neighborhoods.
The Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously Tuesday voted to turn down plans for liquor stores at 1314 Leesburg Road near Fort Jackson and at 5400 Farrow Road in north Columbia.
Residents who live or work near each location complained to the board that the proposed stores would not fit well with their surroundings.
Frank Dubose, who lives near the shopping center on Leesburg Road where one applicant, Justine Mwadime, planned to open a store, said the mostly residential surrounding area includes a day care and several churches.
There are already enough liquor stores nearby and “we don’t need another one,” Dubose said.
Waylon Gibson, the pastor of Full Benefits Harvest International, argued the liquor store would not fit in well with the shopping center’s other occupants, including three small churches. Gibson said his church is in the suite next to the proposed liquor store.
“It’s in direct conflict to what we’re trying to do for the community,” Gibson said afterward. “What he’s bringing is not helpful at all.”
During the zoning board’s discussion, chairman Ernest Cromartie III agreed, saying the store would not fit the character of its surroundings or aid the public interest. “I think we have an issue here of clear character and compatibility,” Cromartie said.
The board’s reasoning was similar in denying a request for the proposed liquor store on Farrow Road. Board member Reggie McKnight said it appeared at the meeting that the majority of the neighbors didn’t want the store.
“I think we need to think about the best interest of our communities, not just for somebody to make a dollar,” McKnight said. “I think it would be in our best interests to deny this liquor store.”
Three residents who live near the proposed store had asked the zoning board to consider that there are already two other liquor stores within roughly a mile of the site.
Venis Livingston, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, said she and others there are “fighting very hard” to keep bad influences out. “If we’re going to add on anything, let’s add on something positive in the neighborhood, something for the youths,” Livingston said. “We don’t need no more liquor stores.”