Private club needs Council's blessing before it can apply for liquor license

Council agenda includes club ordinance, bonuses, commission appointment

El Dorado City Council members are expected to act on a proposed ordinance regarding the opening of a private club when they convene for a regular meeting at 5 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

The Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayer will begin at 4:55 p.m.

Under old business on the council's agenda is the third reading of a proposed ordinance to make way for a new sports bar and game lounge at 203 E. Main.

During the council's regular meeting on Oct. 12, City Attorney Robert Rushing explained that per a change in state law in 2017, private clubs are required to seek approval from the local governing body -- in this case, the El Dorado City Council -- before applying for a permit to sell alcohol from the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Rushing said the council has to adopt an ordinance to approve the establishment of the private club before the application to the AABC can advance.

Owner Josh Bolin said he and his business partners are looking to open the club to members ages 21 and up and serve beer, wine, mixed drinks, frozen drinks, etc.

He said the partners hope to implement a designated time in which younger people can enter the business -- such as with an older family member prior to 6 p.m. -- and partake in non-alcoholic beverages, games, TVs and other entertainment.

There are also plans to invite local musicians to perform, said Bolin.

"Basically, just to have a place for adults to come and enjoy themselves in the evening hours and enjoy our city," he told council members.

The business would be located within the city's entertainment district -- which allows the public consumption and open carrying of alcoholic beverages on streets and sidewalks -- and would abide by the city ordinance and state statute that regulates the district, Bolin noted.

The conditions of the entertainment district are permitted from noon until 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and holidays.

The district is roughly bordered by Pony and Locust Streets on the south end; Cleveland and West avenues on the west end; Hill Avenue between Pony and Oak streets on the east side: and Oak Street between Hill and Cleveland avenues to the north.

The western border mostly runs along Cleveland Avenue, with the exception of an area between Cedar and Locust streets that juts out to South West Avenue.

Reviewing the information that was submitted by Bolin, Council Member Frank Hash asked how the club would qualify as a "nonprofit corporation."

Bolin said state regulations require the owners to establish the club as a nonprofit business in order to hold a liquor license.

"We're not seeking, like, a status as a nonprofit where you would make a donation and we would give you, like, a tax-exempt slip or something along those lines," he said.

"You would have to be a member, a paid member to enter?" asked Hash.

Bolin said yes, adding that the membership fee will cost $5.

He said the club must have at least 100 members and so far, 108 members have signed up.

"So, if somebody's walking around town at MusicFest and they want to come into your place and it's a private club, how do they get in?" Council Member David Hurst asked.

Bolin said the club will serve guests and extend an offer to join for the $5 membership fee.

"What that would do is go toward your drink and give the opportunity to, we have pool tables, get a stick if you want a pool stick," he explained. "So, we reserve that kind of (thing) for our members."

Council Member Willie McGhee asked if the matter required a public hearing and Mayor Paul Choate said a public hearing is optional.

The council heard the first reading of the ordinance on Oct. 12 and the second during an El Dorado City Council/El Dorado Water and Public Works Board meeting on Oct. 25.

Rushing is expected to read the ordinance for the third time today and the council to vote on the matter.

The council will also consider a resolution for year-end/holiday payroll bonuses for city employees.

During the council meeting on Oct. 25, Council Member and Finance Committee chairman Vance Williamson suggested that the council maintain the same payment schedule from 2022 and asked Rushing to draw up a resolution to present today.

The payment schedule is:

$50, six months or less.

$100, seven months - one year.

$200, one - two years.

$250, three - four years.

$500, five - seven years.

$750, eight - nine years.

$1,000, 10 years or more.

Also under new business, the council will consider the appointment of Tiffany Olsen to fill a vacancy on the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission.

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