Just two days after a Sebastian County Circuit Judge voided the election allowing alcohol sales in Barling, a local redevelopment group in favor of alcohol sales say the judge lacks the authority to do that.
“A reasonable person would not assume that somebody in Greenwood should vote on an election in Barling,” said Ivy Owen, Executive Director of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority.
He doesn’t believe a Sebastian County Circuit Judge has jurisdiction to void the Barling liquor election. According to Arkansas code, the county court, not the circuit court, has jurisdiction over local liquor votes. The redevelopment authority has filed a motion intervening in the matter.
Owen also says the judge should have let them know the vote was in jeopardy.
“The point we made is that nobody knew it,” he said. “Nobody knew the hearing was going on, we didn`t get notice, the city of Barling didn`t get notice.”
A decades-old law that led to the judge's decision is outdated, according to Owen.
“This law was enacted, confirmed and reaffirmed in 1944 when Barling was not even a city, not even a twinkle in anybody`s eye,” he said.
The redevelopment authority is in talks with builders to construct a 70-store mall on 115 acres at the northeast corner of Highways 59 and 22.
Businesses will be deterred if they're unable to sell alcohol, Owen said.
“We`re talking about up to 700 people being employed in 70 stores versus no people being employed in no stores,” he said.
Some in Barling oppose liquor sales.
“I think they shouldn`t sell alcohol because it`s just putting people in danger,” Junior Paofox, a resident said.
The circuit judge who voided the election, Stephen tabor, says he cannot comment on a pending case.
The authority expect the redevelopment project to be completed in the next year and a half, but added if the judge's decision isn't overturned, the project might not go forward at all.