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Decatur store to keep alcohol license if it builds own barrier

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

A Decatur convenience store can keep its alcohol license if it erects a barrier on its property to screen the view from a nearby church.

By a 4-1 vote, the City Council approved Monday the transfer of a beer and wine license for Chris Bandaru, owner of Sara Mini Mart at 2108 Sandlin Road S.W.

In a public hearing with the council, Amber James, Bandaru's attorney, said the store would go out of business if it were prohibited from selling alcohol. The Rev. Leonel Alvarado of the Decatur Hispanic Church of the Nazarene didn't attend the meeting.

The church reversed its position on alcohol sales in February after having approved a screening measure on its own property in December 2005.

The previous store owner, with church permission, planted 37 cypress trees on church property to meet the city's screening qualifications. The church removed the trees last month.

Mark Petersohn, director of the city's Engineering Department, said the store would need to move its entrance from Sandlin Road to an alley and adjacent cul-de-sac to prevent traffic conflicts.

The barrier will be similar to "a tennis court fence," Petersohn said, "with wire and mesh 10 feet tall and 30 feet in length. The screen doesn't have to cover the whole front of the business."

Councilman Ronny Russell voted against the measure, saying he generally opposed the idea and that the screen is inadequate.

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