As it turns out, according to today's Blade article, even a judge agrees that fears about increased crime are not a valid reason for denying a permit.
The Spot Mini Mart had been open for two years before government officials realized that they needed a special use permit to operate a convenience store at their location. When they applied for the permit, City Council rejected their application because of complaints from neighbors that the store contributed to an increase in crimes, such as littering and burglaries.
Now, how a convenience store is responsible for burglaries in the neighborhood was a question council members never asked. That aside, the judge said that "evidence of criminal activity and littering was anecdotal, or not reliably linked with The Spot."
"In this case, a review of the entire record in no way supports the decision of city council," the judge ruled. "The opponents of the [permit] expressed many unsubstantiated concerns regarding the carryout, and most of these were in regard to the sale of alcohol."
Perhaps it's time for all city council members to consider the FACTS and not the FEARS when making such decisions, much as the judge did.
But don't expect this latest ruling to stop our council members. They're still debating an ordinance to license convenience stores, under the misguided notion that it is the convenience store - and not the lack of police enforcement of illegal behavior - that needs to be 'regulated.'
I don't think the city is living up to the logo on its homepage - 'a business friendly city of the future.'