Ocala, Florida — County land regulations forbid retail liquor sales within 500 feet of a church, school, and public parks, unless, of course the store-owner is granted an exception by County Commissioners.
State zoning laws also prohibit liquor stores from being built near churches, schools, and playgrounds.
Recently County Commissioners did in fact grant an exception, breaking the county’s own regulations by permitting a liquor store to be built near the Good News Church.
Residents fear the liquor store will bring an undesirable crowd to the neighborhood.
Marion County Commissioners claim the liquor store will not be a nuisance to surrounding residents. However, statistics show that when there is a liquor store close to a residential area, there is more likely to be crime, loitering, and drunk drivers. According to experts, drunk driving does not only apply to patrons that leave bars after a night of drinking, but also people who drive to a liquor store already intoxicated. Additionally, two million liquor stores are robbed every year in the U.S.
Residents voiced their opinions to the BCC, however, Commissioners gave the go ahead anyway.
One resident said, “What is the point of speaking if the Commission breaks the law and passes a permit to have a liquor store built near a church that could potentially endanger children.”
Ocala Post found that childcare is provided for infants and toddlers at Good News Church during sermons. For young children (Pre-K to 5th Grade) there is a 30 – 40 minute program that meets during the sermon portion of a service, and there is a youth bible study for middle school and high school students that meets Tuesday nights at 6 p.m.
We want to hear from you. Do you think the BCC went too far?