Alcohol sales again dominated discussion at city hall this week, resulting in a win for an outdoor fish restaurant and music venue.

The Gainesville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve on third reading a specific use permit ordinance for Seafoodville, located at 424 E. California St., to sell alcohol.

Mayor Glenn Loch was absent that evening due to illness. All City Council members and the City Attorney were present.

Previously, Seafoodville has operated as a private club in regard to alcohol sales.

The specific use permit was granted for a year as a trial run — a move which some council members said would be wise for future requests for alcohol sales near residential areas.

Speaking in the citizen comments portion of the meeting, Johnny Glass, owner of Seafoodville (also called Gainesville Seafood) opposed any unique restriction of his business, namely noise level restrictions.

“I do not agree with that idea unless we’re going to treat everyone the same way,” Glass said.

He noted complaints came from the Turner Apartments, a senior citizen residence across California Street, regarding noise from concerts at the former gas-station-turned-bar-and-grill.

Glass said Turner Apartments, along with the rest of the area designated as historic downtown, is zoned commercial.

“There’s a residential area in a commercial zone,” he said.

City Manager Mike Land said there are currently no other restaurants or clubs that have received complaints from residents for noise.

Councilman Vince Rippy expressed his desire that Turner Apartments and Seafoodville become “better neighbors.” He said Seafoodville has been successful and other businesses may prop up in Gainesville with similar services.

“I can see another cantina-type operation wanting to copy your business model,” Rippy said, noting Seafoodville is unique among Gainesville establishments but only for now.

Rippy said a permanent solution would have to be reached.

“Keep in mind that Turner is a business, too ... where do freedoms and rights stop?” he said.

Goldsworthy, mayor pro-tem, urged the Council to arrive at a fair decision, but reminded them that a noise ordinance is in the works, to be introduced in early 2007 that may provide a uniform solution to all restaurants within the city limits. He said if an agreeable situation may be reached between Turner Apartment residents and Seafoodville, then that could be the basis for future regulations.

“What is reasonable between neighbors on California Street would be a good model city-wide,” Goldsworthy said. “... This all boils down to that we all need to get along and be good neighbors.”

Don Yeager, minister of First United Methodist Church of Gainesville, asked after the specific use permit was approved if the restaurant’s proximity to the Learning Tree Preschool was considered, per previous discussion.

It was noted the planning and zoning commission discussed the issues of proximity to a school and the planning and zoning commission voted to approve.

In other alcohol-related business, the Council voted unanimously to suspend the city charter’s requirement of three separate readings and approved on second reading an ordinance granting a specific use permit for Hilltop Discount Liquor to sell alcohol.

Azzam Hussami, owner of the Hilltop truck stop, spoke and requested the permit be approved on second reading.

In other business, The Council unanimously approved an ordinance approving the Lazart Production, Inc. Expansion and Relocation Project Agreement to allow additional funding for continued remodeling costs of the former Valenite plant.

Kent Sharp, Gainesville Economic Development Director, said the project allows for an additional $100,000 for continued remodeling costs over the $300,000 originally approved.

“This brings it (the project) to a close,” Sharp said.

He said the building is better served in the private sector.

In related business, the Council unanimously approved the sale of the Valenite plant, 1304 Corporate Drive (formerly Loadmaster Circle) off Interstate 35 North from the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation to Richard Klement for $1.9 million.

“Not only did we not lose money but we gained it,” Sharp added.

In other business, the Council voted unanimously to:

• Allow John Brown to build a private hangar at the Gainesville Municipal Airport per recommendation of the airport board.

• Approve a resolution and an ordinance on the preliminary plats for Tuscany Villas Phase 1, lots 1-17, off FM 1306 with the stipulation that the main drive through the housing development be called Bella Vista Drive, as approved by the city’s planning and zoning commission earlier that afternoon.

• Amend the city’s contract with attorney Jim Robertson to allow for the collection of delinquent taxes for the city of Gainesville beginning in April rather than July, as allowed by recent changes to the Texas Tax Code.

• Appoint David Wright to the Greater Texoma Utility Authority board; Duwayna Cullum, Linda Williams and Martha Modkins to the Keep Gainesville Beautiful board; and Barry Otts and Karon Sullivant to the Main Street Board.

In discussion, the city heard from a representative with First Southwest regarding refunding of “callable debt” of the city.

The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr[at]ntin.net

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