Pastors from three churches along U.S. Highway 341 turned out to the Glynn County Commission’s Thursday meeting to speak against a liquor license application for a proposed food truck venue, leading the commission to unanimously deny the application.
Planned for the old Pumpkin Patch property at the corner of U.S. Highway 341 and Ga. Highway 303, the establishment — called Boomers Brews, Grub and Tunes — would be styled after a similar venue in Dallas, Tex., called the Truck Yard.
Tony Clark, one of the owners, said it would be a mostly open-air affair, with the main building opening up to outdoor seating. Some seating would be undercover on decks, while more seating would be installed in the back of vintage trucks Clark said he planned to incorporate into the design.
Boomers would have a bar and a kitchen where customers could order typical American fare like steak, hamburgers and fries, but the real attraction would be the food trucks, he said.
The yard around back would have two spots for trucks, which would rotate nightly. Around 16-17 food trucks had shown interest in getting into the lineup, he said.
Alcohol was nowhere near the top of their business model, Clark said. The focus would be on a family-friendly atmosphere. A large part of that would be a pet area and kid-friendly games and activities, he said.
A playing and walking area for pets was included in the site plan for the property, which was approved by both the county and Mainland Planning Commission.
While the business also included a music stage, Clark said it would be quiet, easy-listening music.
“Acoustic only, not Def Leppard or KISS,” he added.
Clark didn’t say whether the lack of an alcohol license would cause them to stop the development of the business.
Some members of the public turned out to speak in favor of the venue.
Local small business owner Stephen Floyd said Glynn County has a reputation for being difficult to do business in and not being open to new types of businesses.
The county could do a lot better by adopting an attitude toward business development that vibrant cities like Savannah have, he said.
Jaime Jackson, pastor of Remnant Church, Bill Ligon of Christian Renewal and Larry Daughtry of Sterling Church of God all voiced their opposition on the grounds that they didn’t like the idea of an establishment right nextdoor to a church serving alcohol.
All three said they were not opposed to the business itself, but the location.
County ordinance stipulates that businesses that sell alcohol must be 600 feet or more from a church. That rule does have exceptions, however. Because the church sits in a highway commercial zone, and has since it was originally opened, the distance rules did not apply, according to Community Development Director Pamela Thompson.
That exception didn’t deter the pastors.
Remnant’s chief of security, Mark Jones, said the business would present a major security risk for the church. The business may be responsible, but it can’t control what people do when they leave the establishment, he said.
Marci Bourland, founder and executive director of Foster Love Ministries, said she works closely with the U.S. Department of Child and Family Services and often deals with children.
Her service, to train and license foster parents, operates out of Remnant Church. She said she occasionally has to bring children to the church and wasn’t comfortable with the idea of an establishment that serves alcohol right next door.
Ultimately, the commission voted to deny the alcohol license 6-0.
Commissioner Peter Murphy was absent.
In other business, the commission approved its 2019 property tax rate.
Taxes won’t change for most, but the county’s proposed lower base maintenance and operations tax means residents of the city of Brunswick and Jekyll Island will see a dip in their 2019 property taxes.
The county Police Department and Fire Department Emergency Medical Services Division will now be funded by their own separate taxes.
City residents won’t pay the police tax while Jekyll Island residents will pay neither the police nor EMS tax.
The county’s maintenance and operations tax will drop to compensate for the two new taxes, meaning residents of Brunswick and Jekyll Island will gain the benefit of a lower M&O tax. Anyone outside those two tax districts will see no change in their property tax rate.
Because the new maintenance and operations millage the county proposed is lower this year than last, it was not required to hold town halls or advertise the new millage.
The commission did hold a public hearing at the Thursday meeting, during which county resident Jeff Kilgore thanked outgoing Chief Financial Officer Tamara Munson for her good work on county financials.
County resident and Board of Appeals Chairman Walter Rafolski asked why the police and EMS were being funded by separate taxes while the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office was still included in the county’s general fund.
Munson responded, saying the decision was made because the sheriff’s office serves the entire county, while the police only serve Jekyll Island and Brunswick on request and the EMS division doesn’t serve Jekyll Island.
The commission approved the new millage 6-0. It also approved Glynn County Schools’ 2019 millage rate.
The Glynn County Board of Education voted earlier in the day to maintain its millage rate of 16.157. The school board has kept the same millage rate since 2014. However, because the school board did not adopt the rollback rate this year, state law required it to advertise a tax increase and hold three public hearings before adopting its millage rate.
Commission Chairman Mike Browning said he didn’t know exactly why the county commission had to approve the school board’s millage but suspected it was because the county is the one that has to collect the taxes.
The commission also voted to:
• Approve changes to the bylaws of the Islands and Mainland planning commissions.
• Give the go-ahead to the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau to begin the next phase of a project to install new way-finding signs around St. Simons Island.
• Approve a $16,477 grant for the Glynn County Police Department from the U.S. Department of Justice to purchase new equipment.
• Approve an encroachment agreement with Sapelo Equipment, located on U.S. Highway 17.
The county commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 5.