About a dozen merchants and nearby residents split about evenly on their testimony for and against the convenience store's relocation.
Supporters cited Sunshine's long history of being a “good neighbor,” keeping vagrants away and having an unblemished police record.
Opponents, particularly other tenants in the strip mall on the corner of Voltaire and Wabaska Drive where Sunshine would be relocating, said it's the wrong place for a liquor store. They argued it would negatively impact their neighborhood inviting the wrong element and exacerbating parking and traffic problems.
PCPB board member Mark Krencik noted the advisory group's subcommittee voted 7-0 for the project.
“We did require some conditions that would go along with our approval, including hours of operation, making a loading zone available for all mall tenants and replacing any existing or damaged landscaping,” Krencik said. He noted store hours would be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, closing an hour later at 11 p.m. on weekends.
Peter Najor of the family owned and operated Sunshine Liquor store said they lost their lease at their previous location at 3911 Voltaire St., temporarily putting them out of business and necessitating the move.
“We're just trying to get approval to go on with our lives again – this is our livelihood,” Najor said.
Asked by PCPB board member Don Sevrens if they'd searched the area for other more suitable sites to relocate to, applicants replied they had, and that their search turned up no other viable alternatives.
From the audience, several local residents testified that the Najors and Sunshine Liquor exhibited exemplary behavior during 16 years of operation in the community.
One woman said the Najors “kept their place immaculate,” adding “they never had problems with transients and I really felt safe.”
But not everyone was thrilled by the prospect of a new liquor store nearby.
Neighbor Mike Stevens called out Sunshine, claiming they were guilty of “sign clutter” in violation of city codes. He also asked the PCPB board to postpone a decision on the proposed relocation, arguing the community hadn't been offered proper notice to weigh-in on the matter.
Another neighbor said they were angry about being deceived regarding the mall's new tenants. He said he'd been told a high-end wine and cheese shop was coming, not a full-blown liquor store.
Scot Taber, owner of Paper Moon, a music lessons studio in the strip mall, spoke against Sunshine’s relocation.
“If you had a business catering to children, and you learned a liquor store was going in next door – I don't think you'd be very happy about that.” Taber said. “The parents of our students are also alarmed at this.”
Expressing concern about the potential harm Sunshine's relocation could pose to neighboring merchants, PCPB board member Jerry Lohla asked if the applicants would consider “not having the word liquor on their signage.”
The applicant responded they were considering renaming their new store as “deli and spirits.”
The PCPB Board voted 11-1 to allow Sunshine Liquor's relocation.