Rezoning denied for proposed liquor store in Marcus Bottom

Published 2:34 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Members of the Vicksburg Zoning Board of Appeals have denied an application to rezone a piece of property on Halls Ferry Road in Marcus Bottom for a liquor store.

Sukhbeer Singh requested rezoning the property he owns at 2600 Halls Ferry Road from C-1 residential commercial to C-3 central business district. The property is the site of a former Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and has been the location of several other businesses, most recently the Marcus Venue. A liquor store is not allowed in a C-1 zone.

According to the city’s zoning ordinances, a property can be rezoned under the following conditions: to correct a manifest error in the ordinance, because of changed or changing conditions in a particular area or in the city generally, to rezone an area or extend the boundary of an existing zone, or to change the regulations and restrictions only as reasonably necessary for the public health, safety or general welfare.

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Singh owns a convenience store that sells beer across the street from the site of the proposed liquor store. He said his customers requested he open the liquor store.

The board denied Singh’s application, saying he failed to show the conditions in the surrounding neighborhood had changed significantly to allow the rezoning. Commissioners heard from Blake Teller, Singh’s attorney, and several residents from surrounding neighborhoods.

“We certainly believe the nature of that corridor is changing,” Teller said. “You can show that by the virtue of the use of that very property — as a Kentucky Fried Chicken and then as a venue that served alcohol in the past. Across the street, you’ve got a convenience store that’s selling beer and auto repair shops coming and going.

“Different commercial operations are coming to that area and have been over recent years that warrant what I would call an apparent change in the use of that area,” Teller said, adding the store would not adversely affect traffic in the area.

He said Singh would only have to meet one of the criteria for rezoning the property.

“We feel like we’ve met that,” he said.

Jim Stirgus Jr., who lives near the building, questioned the need for a liquor store. He said the character of the neighborhood has not changed.

“It’s been quiet and the surrounding area… is all peaceful and quiet,” he said. “We don’t need a liquor store in our neighborhood. We have elderly people that’s still living there and it’s not going to be conducive to my house and those surrounding areas because all it’s going to do is affect my house (value).”

Cherry Street resident Jack Burrell said he was concerned about the apparent precedent of rezoning the property C-3 without other adjoining similar properties affecting the city’s comprehensive strategic plan.

“It would also tend to open the flood gates for anyone with any piece of property to rezone it whatever they think correct,” he said.

Burrell also pointed out the building is surrounded by neighborhoods and within walking distance of two churches and a school (Bowmar Elementary School).

Wilson Carroll, another Cherry Street resident, said the changes in the neighborhood surrounding the property have improved the area “to promote the residential character,” not commercial pursuits.

“We would be moving in a direction that is inconsistent with the direction we’re trying to go (by approving the rezoning),” he said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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