Selling alcohol near a place of worship was not an issue for church members at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting, despite stringent objections during previous requests.
The commission unanimously recommended a beer and wine license for Mi Barrio Food and Gas Mart at 403 N. Mercey Springs Road. The location, which had housed Circle K, is across the street from New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church.
Circle K and the church were at odds last year when the chain store lobbied the city to move next to New Canaan. Church members objected for fear of Circle K’s patrons bringing graffiti, litter and unruly behavior fueled by intoxication to the church’s doorstep. Such behavior, according to the church’s congregation, was a regular occurrence at the Mercey Springs address.
The land on which Circle K eventually received approval to build was bought from Rite Aid, which made plans to relocate there in 2008 but abandoned the site due to the economic downturn. At the time, New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church opposed that move because, like Circle K, Rite Aid wanted an alcohol license. In 2008, church members also told planning commissioners that loitering and public intoxication were taking place outside of Circle K.
During Wednesday’s hearing, church members voiced their support for Mi Barrio’s alcohol license application.
“The difference is they’re across the street. When Circle K was across the street from us, we had no problem. (Now) Circle K is coming 65 feet from our church,” Ann Jackson said.
Marlene Smith said when the store was across the street, there were bottles left outside of the Circle K property that the church asked management to remove. But, she said, for most of the 30 years the store spent across the street from the church, it was a good neighbor.
If approved by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control, the alcohol license for Mi Barrio Food and Gas Mart will be the third within blocks of the church. Dollar General at 485 South Mercey Springs Road also has one.
Commission Chairman Tom Spada said he does not believe there are too many businesses selling alcohol in the neighborhood.
“I don’t think so,” Spada said.