Tensions rise at Greenville Town Meeting

The Town Council of Greenville met on Monday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. for their regular session. The meeting began smoothly, with members of Alpha Kappa Alpha asking the council members for permission to beautify the James Tracy Stevens Park. The board approved this request and agreed to partner with the organization to renovate the park. The council moved on to the next item on the agenda: resolution 2015-9, authorizing submittal of DEP loan application for waste water treatment plant improvements. The loan would pay for the rest of the costs not covered by the CDGB grant. The resolution was approved 5-0. The council also approved the work order for the wastewater treatment plant with Hatch MacDonald and the DEP loan with Parrish and Associates. Town Manager Tim Day came to the podium to inform the board that the sewer lines in the four units on South 221 are in dire need of repairs. The motion to fix the lines was approved, 3-2. The next item on the agenda sparked a very tense debate between citizens, the council and Day. Day informed the council that the pool hall on 1304 SW Grand Street is in violation of ordinance 197, which states businesses cannot operate past midnight. Many members of the community filed several complaints about the pool hall, claiming that they have seen drug paraphernalia and alcohol disposed in the trash cans of the facility, when the pool hall has no liquor license. There were also several noise complaints, according to Day, as the pool hall has been operating until 2 a.m. for the past several weekends and allegedly had a live DJ during those nights. Ordinance 197 also states that the business is in violation if noise can be heard 50 ft. away from the facility. Day also announced that the building had several inspection violations, as the exit signs were hanging from dangling wires, but this has since been resolved. Day also informed the council that the business sent out paperwork with the wrong name on it and called themselves Uptown Entertainment. Before public comment began on this issue, Day asked everyone to handle the matter professionally and announce their name before speaking. Kevin Gilley, owner of the pool hall, provided his side of the story to the council. He expressed that there is no alcohol served on the grounds, and if anyone brings alcohol, he and his staff make them throw it in the garbage cans outside. “There's no alcohol up there period,” said Gilley. “My children are up there. My family is up there.” Alphonso Young cut in before Gilley could finish. “Everything that goes on up there is on Facebook,” said Young. “I don't go up there. I don't even go to clubs period. I don't know what you all are doing up there, but I've heard it and seen it myself at 2:30 a.m., not from anybody telling me.” A citizen stood up to provide her insight. “I'm all for private enterprise, and I know people in this community need something to do,” began the citizen. “I live about three blocks down, and I'm hard of hearing, and I can still hear [the noise].” A complaint was brought up by Terry Hampton next. “Where's the citizens that filed complaints? Where's the problem when there isn't a problem?” “I feel that if citizens come to complain to the town manager, they don't have to be here to address the complaint,” said Mayor Barbara Dansey. “Tonight is for you to address the complaints that have been made, but they don't have to individually come up here and state their name.” “Until the town says it's okay to make noise after 11 o'clock at night, then we move ahead,” continued Day. “I extended the courtesy to let them go until [midnight], and [the owners] said something about the Sheriff's Department letting them stay open until 2 o'clock in the morning. Obviously it's going to be a violation past 11 o'clock with a DJ playing. I don't know what else to say.” Day reported that he was walking out of town hall one night, Hampton pulled up in a car and began to spew profanities at him. Day said Hampton allegedly came out of the car and “every other word” addressed to Day was a swear word. Hampton kept trying to speak, and Dansey banged the gavel down several times to quiet Hampton. Young asked Hampton to take a seat. “Really, if you wanna go back to reality, they had it on Facebook with liquor cups,” said Young. “How do you know what's in the cups?” asked Gilley. “[The public] is the one saying it!” replied Young. “I don't even go up there.” Heated discussion continued between Young and Gilley, but Dansey banged the gavel again and again until the floor went silent. Kovacherich Arnold spoke up next. “Correct me if I'm wrong, but [the paperwork] says Uptown Entertainment,” said Arnold. “That consists of anything they want to do there as long as the entrainment is not in violation of the rules. If there's a curfew violation, that relates to the Sheriff's Department. We cannot tell the business what they can do.” Young and Arnold began to exchange views in a heated debate, and Dansey cut their discussion off with several fierce taps of the gavel. Dansey had to tell Arnold to quiet down several times. Crystal Gilley began to speak next. She had a lot to say to the council pertaining to the pool hall. “I would never have my kids around drugs,” said Gilley. “Second of all... beer cans can be put anywhere; you can't stop someone from putting beer cans in the trash. Why would someone want to go in my trash anyway? That's illegal.” “I'm through with comments from citizens,” said Dansey. “We want to work on a solution. No one is trying to close your business and everyone is due respect. What we're working for now, tonight, is to come up with a decision or solution as to how we want to handle this problem.” After the conversation ceased, the issue was tabled. The council agreed to further discuss it in the January meeting. Day suggested that the pool hall get an extension of hours on one day of the week and then something could be drafted up at the next meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held Jan. 11 at 6 p.m.

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