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Planning board grants permits to businesses

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Three downtown businesses received the Salisbury Planning Board’s blessing to sell and serve alcohol.
The board granted all three special use permit requests, although the owners of Nashville Nights said they thought they were not treated fairly during the process.
Salisbury City Council, which must give final approval, will consider the Planning Board’s recommendations next month.
Stelia, 118 N. Main St.
New owner Louie Mourouzidis, who owns DJ’s Restaurant in Salisbury, and new manager Josh Wainright said they plan to reopen Stelia as a private club.
After they complete kitchen renovations, they will close the club briefly and then open under a new name as a full-service restaurant and bar, Wainright said. Stelia is in the Washington Building, owned by Mike Miller of Miller Davis.
The kitchen requires a new hood and gas line to accommodate their equipment, Wainright said. Rather than lose the clientele Stelia had built up over four years with a lengthy closure, they want to reopen quickly as a tavern and then re-establish the restaurant, Wainright said.
“We don’t want to lose the momentum,” he said.
If approved, Stelia will open from 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They will gear the club toward people in their 30s and 40s looking for someplace “safe and clean,” Wainright said.
A Little Sumthin’ Sumthin’, 117 W. Innes St.
Primarily a boutique selling clothing and accessories, the shop would offer beer and wine for sale during live jazz and poetry readings if approved, owner Debbie Evans said.
Evans said she would partner with local wineries and cater to a mature crowd, age 35 and older.
Open since February 2010, the 1,700-square-foot business offers jazz and poetry about twice month, as well as girls’ night out and networking events.
“Great wines and live jazz are pretty much standard for such a setting,” she said.
Events run from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., usually on Fridays.
Nashville Nights, 125-127 E. Innes St.
Owners Karen Littleton and Dick Palmore complained they were treated differently than Stelia and A Little Sumthin’ Sumthin’. Littleton and Palmore requested an amendment to a previous special use permit, which was approved. But they went through a longer process and have appeared before the board several times.
“We have had a very rough year. We have done everything we could,” Littleton said. “We have tried to make everybody happy.”
She asked if the board was discriminating against country music.
“Music is music, and alcohol is alcohol,” she said. “What’s good for one place should be good for every place.”
The board didn’t raise safety concerns about the other businesses like it did for Nashville Nights, Palmore said. The owners have installed a $40,000 fire sprinkler system to gain the fire marshal’s approval, he said.
Nashville Nights, still under construction, was one of the first nightclubs to request a special use permit under the city’s new Land Development Ordinance, said Dick Huffman, Planning Board chairman. The board didn’t intend to discriminate, Huffman said, and the process used to take longer.
“I apologize if we created any undue burdens,” he said.
Previously, Planning Board went through a lengthy quasi-judicial proceeding to grant approval for special use permits. Applicants gave sworn testimony, and the board considered public safety and other factors.
Now, only City Council will conduct quasi-judicial proceedings, City Planner Preston Mitchell said. The UNC Institute of Government advised the Planning Board to simplify its process and consider only whether requests meet the land-use rules.
“We certainly work very hard to be consistent,” Mitchell said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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