Permit for bowling alley approved with
reservations by Planning and Zoning
By Sherrie Williams
During a special session Monday evening Iowa Park Planning and Zoning commission approved, with reservations, a request to permit a bowling alley in a general commercial district in the 400 block of West Park.
The vote was necessary to override an earlier restriction that was put into place in 1982 because of limited parking.
Creighton Berrett is looking into the feasibility of a bowling alley complete with a restaurant and bar in the building formerly occupied by Dollar General.
While board members questioned alcohol being served at the business, City Manager Jerry Flemming said when he envisioned a bowling alley that would include a tavern and a place you could get food.
The board members had several questions about the bowling alley and as to whether alcohol and food would be served.
“If he puts a full size bar in does that change,” asked board member Chris Schlaud. “I don’t want to approve a bowling alley and have somebody say you know what he has a bar in there too.”
After more discussion about alcohol being served board member Jonathan Clubb asked, “Would it be possible for us to see his plans.”
“He is in the very early stages and I doubt he has plans, but he can tell you what his plans are,” said Flemming. “I envisioned a bowing alley with pinball machines, arcade games, a tavern and food. We have a downtown district that is either dead or dying depending on who you ask. My feeling is with something a little different such as the bowling alley with food and a bar and whatever you put in a bowling alley might be beneficial for the downtown area. I think that’s the issue for the public hearing is do we want the downtown area to become something?”
“We don’t want to be to restrictive, yet we can’t be too lenient,” said David Padget, the board chairman.
“If we approve a bowling alley that’s one thing, then if he comes in and wants to put a restaurant in, do we have to approve the restaurant also?” asked board member Berry Watson.
“In our ordinance there is not a definition of a bowling alley,” said Flemming.
“In my opinion a bowling alley is bowling lanes only,” said Watson.
“If that is a consensus as to define bowling alley then yes,” said Flemming. “He has indicated to staff and city council be plans on selling beer in there. I think he also mentioned food of some sort.”
After additional discussion Clubb said, “I don’t think any of us wants to discourage a business, but at the same time we don’t want to get in a catch 22 position.”
As the board was ready to table the request Berrett arrived.
“I am on record that I told him the wrong time,” said Flemming, before Berrett began to explain his plans.
After they asked several questions about his intentions, Berrett told the board members the city council has already given him a variance to apply for a liquor license.
Flemming explained that the city council has a history of issuing variances for alcohol to be sold in that area and there have been no problems.
“I am a family man. I have four small children. I am interested in a family atmosphere, but where someone can have a meal, entertainment and a beer if they want it,” said Berrett. “It is the prefect spot. Near downtown. I think it is going to do nothing but help Iowa Park. We would be drawing people from Electra, Wichita Falls.”
Flemming then explained that after the city council gave the variance, city staff found an ordinance that prohibited several businesses in the downtown area, which is platted to include an area Victoria Street to Pacific Street, including a bowling alley as well as a public use business, such as a city office.
He went on to explain the ordinance allowed for planning and zoning to permit such businesses, which is why he scheduled the meeting.
“I want a place where junior high and high school age kids can be dropped off and they will be in a safe atmosphere. I am not looking to be a bar. My background is restaurant business. You don’t have to drink just because it is there and if someone has had too much to drink I will ask them to leave,” said Berrett. “I want to bring more to Iowa Park and be a part of it’s growth. A bowling alley is an entertainment center.”
“The city council approved to sell alcohol regardless of what type of business, would that be a fair statement?” asked Clubb.
“Correct, but they gave the approval with the understanding of it being a bowling alley,” said Flemming.
“We are being asked to approve just the bowling alley?” asked Club.
“Correct” replied Flemming.
The board then approved the bowling alley and Flemming noted the bowling alley will include a bar and restaurant.
The board also approved the re plat of Lot 1, Block 26, of the Original Town site and permitted a public use business (the EDC office) in a general commercial district.