Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Rollback saves Macon-Bibb taxpayers $11M and Commission denies M&M Grocery’s alcohol license

Macon-Bibb’s legal counsel recommended against renewing M&M’s license due to the prevalence of crime near the Unionville convenience store that was dubbed a public nuisance

The Macon-Bibb County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to roll back the millage rate by 7.178 points, which Mayor Lester Miller said was the largest rollback in the state that he was aware of.

Commissioner Virgil Watkins said he felt there are many good ways the county could have spent the forfeited $11 million value of the rollback, but he voted in favor of the tax break for property owners.

Without the rollback, the increased value of the county digest would have been treated as a tax increase requiring public hearings, but Miller said he wanted make the county more attractive for new businesses.

Despite pleas from an attorney for the owner of M&M Grocery at 2760 Montpelier Ave., commissioners denied the alcohol license renewal for the Unionville convenience store, also known as BJP Gas & Food Mark. The store had been temporarily closed down as a “public nuisance” in September.

M&M convenience store attorney Brian Jarrard told Macon-Bibb commissioners that denying M&M Grocery’s owner an alcohol license will make it hard for him to stay in business. (Macon-Bibb County)

The store’s legal counsel, Brian Jarrard, told the Commission the owner had complied with the court’s special master’s orders and was allowed to reopen, but denying the alcohol license would make it more difficult for the store to remain open.

“Like all lawful businesses in Macon-Bibb County, the owners of M&M likewise don’t want to see crime in the neighborhood,” Jarrard said. “However, to shut down a lawful business on the basis of the inability to control crime, regardless of who that inability to control crime is attributed to, is not a good policy and it is not the message this commission would want to send to existing businesses or potential businesses.”

Senior Assistant County Attorney Michael McNeill said M&M  failed to meet the county’s requirements for having an alcohol license, in part because of crime and gang activity within 100 yards of the premises.

Jarrard argued that the county presented “zero evidence” that M&M’s alcohol license contributed in any way to the criminal activity in the area.

Mayor Pro Tem Seth Clark, who represents that portion of Montpelier Avenue, motioned for the county to deny the license. The Commission voted unanimously not to renew M&M’s alcohol license.

The county’s legal team also recommended denying an alcohol license for the CRU Lounge at 2440 Riverside Drive because the property owner owes more than $2,300 in taxes.

Watkins said the owner is ready to pay the arrears, so the Commission tabled the matter to allow time for payment before taking a vote.

Commissioners also approved $300,000 for a new roof at City Hall and agreed to allow Cherry Street Capital to install solar panels at Memorial Gym.

The county also accepted grant funds for fire fighter trauma training, and agreed to let the mayor form an agreement with United Way of Central Georgia to allocate nearly $92K in a Coronavirus Emergency Solutions Grant for Brookdale Resource Center, which assists the unhoused.

More than $2.5 million of 2018 SPLOST funds also were earmarked for courthouse work, which is separate from a pending redesign of the building.

Here is a summation of Tuesday’s agenda items and actions taken by the Commission, which also honored the Bloomfield baseball team’s World Championship title captured recently in Mississippi.

– Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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