Panola Co. Land Commission

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do-over planned for bar and grill

By Billy Davis
A special exception request for a bar and grill between Sardis and Sardis Lake must come back to the Panola County Land Development Commission.

Permit applicant Patricia Harrell agreed Monday night with the commission’s unanimous vote that the published legal notice should be reworded to include plans for a pool hall at 25485 Highway 315.

The public notice described “Good Time Pizza Bar and Grill” when it ran in The Southern Reporter, the Sardis newsper, to announce the public hearing.  

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Land commission attorney Colmon Mitchell dispensed the legal advice after Harrell described her plans during the hearing.

“You want the notice to contain all uses,” which gives the public a clear understanding of the intended use of the property, Mitchell explained.

He called the description in the public notice an “ambiguous phrase” and advised commissioners to re-advertise the public notice with “pool hall” or to deny Harrell’s stated plans for a pool hall.

Harrell had offered to drop plans for the pool hall, in order for the permit request to move forward, but by then the debate had shifted away from whether to grant a permit to whether to proceed at all.  

 “I’d prefer to have it cleaner and do the whole thing at one time,” said commissioner Sledge Taylor, and other commissioners said they agreed with that suggestion.  

During the public hearing, Harrell said her family is leasing the property and is renovating the building to prepare for the public.

 “I don’t want it known as a club or a juke joint,” Harrell said, describing the business as a “relaxed atmosphere” to eat burgers and fries, and play pool, checkers, and video games.

Most of the business’s income would come from pool and food, she said.

A name for the proposed business was not mentioned at the meeting.

Harrell acknowledged that beer would be consumed on the premises, too, saying at one point that she proposed a “lock down breakfast,” which apparently allows drinking customers to remain on the premises.

The breakfast gives patrons “a chance to calm down,” Harrell said.

It was unclear for some time Monday night if Harrell can sell beer that is consumed on premises. That question was cleared up when Board of Supervisors president Gary Thompson advised commissioners that it was legal for Harrell to sell beer from one building if it’s consumed in another.

Thompson had conferred with Sheriff Otis Griffin on their cellular phones during the meeting until the supervisor relayed his conversation with the sheriff.

Harrell said no one under 18 would be allowed into the building and those under 21 would be stamped or wear a wristband to distinguish if they’re under 21. She said at one point that pool tournaments would attract “young people” to the business.

“Young people?” asked Danny Walker, the commission chairman.

“Well, not that young,” Harrell replied.

Two neighbors who live on nearby Kimes Cove told the land commission they oppose Harrell’s plans.

A bar draws “undisciplined and irresponsible people,” said Kimes Cove resident Pat Whitaker.
Susan Sanders, a second resident, said he had visited a similar business and saw children under 18 playing inside.

“I don’t have a problem with a pool hall or with pizza, but they’re not in there for the food,” said Paul Pecou, who said he lives a quarter-mile away along Highway 315.

Some commissioners questioned the proposed late-night hours of the business and at least one commissioner, Danny Jones, recalled that a similar permit request had been turned down in Courtland.

“I have a real problem with the hours,” said commissioner Bob Haltom. “I don’t know a Pizza Hut that’s open until two o’clock in the morning.”

Harrell proposed a midnight closing through the week, 2 a.m. closings on Friday and Saturday, and a midnight closing on Sundays.