Published: 1:00 pm, Wed. Mar. 9th, 2016Updated: 1:40 pm
Without a doubt, the most controversial item on the agenda at Tuesday’s Artesia City Council meeting was the issuance of a beer and wine liquor license for Los Agaves Restaurant, 611 N. Eighth St.
According to Mayor Pro Tem Terry Hill, the restaurant’s proximity to the Artesia Center poses a potential safety issue for young people who attend after school and summer programs at the center.
The council ultimately determined, however, it does not have the authority to deny the license because the Artesia Center is neither a church nor a school. Under the Alcohol and Gaming Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department’s regulations, the sale of alcoholic beverages at licensed premises is prohibited within 300 feet of any church or school.
“I will not support this,” said Hill. “I think it’s too close to the Center.”
One of Hill’s suggestions was to pass a new ordinance prohibiting restaurants from obtaining a liquor license within 500 feet of a church. Victory Life Fellowship, near 10th Street and Memorial Drive, is 401 feet from Los Agaves.
Councilor Bill Rogers felt issuing such an ordinance would be bad for the community’s economy.
“One of the things we hear constantly from the public is that there’s no place to eat in town, and if we limit what these restaurants are allowed to do, the complaints are going to get worse.” said Rogers. “I’d be careful of passing some kind of blanket ordinance that greatly limits what someone who had an interest in opening a restaurant in this city could do.”
When it came time to vote, the issuance of the liquor license passed 4-2, with Hill and Councilor Jeff Youtsey voting “no.”
In other business Tuesday, Linda Stevens of Artesia Clean & Beautiful presented the council with an update on the nonprofit organization.
Stevens discussed the Recycled Arts Show, which will take place March 17 at the Artesia Public Library, the Artesia Clean & Beautiful Golf Scramble, set for March 26 at the Artesia Country Club, and Adopt a Tree, which will begin April 4.
The council also approved the hiring of Simon Navarrette as a water technician at a rate of pay of $2,363 per month, as well as a request from First United Methodist Church to conduct an Easter Sunrise Service from 6-6:45 a.m. Sunday, March 27, at Woodbine Cemetery.
As part of its consent agenda, the council approved:
• the retirement of Jerry Johnson, garage foreman, effective April 1.
• the resignation of Rob Rushton, police corporal, effective March 11.
• permission to attend the NMML District Meeting in Roswell.
• permission for one police employee to attend the Special Operations Medical Association Scientific Assembly in Charlotte, N.C.
• ratification of Mayor Phillip Burch’s approval for one employee to attend the ICC/IAPMO Edu Code Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.
• permission for one water employee to attend the New Mexico Rural Water Association Annual Conference and testing in Albuquerque.
• permission for three streets employees to attend the 2016 Counties Chip Seal Workshop in Ruidoso.
• permission for one police employee to attend the General Instructor Refresher Course in Artesia.