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Tallahassee church opposes bar moving in across the street

Posted at 7:08 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 10:03:42-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A battle is brewing over a new bar looking to open in Tallahassee.

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation records show the buildings at 113 W. College Avenue and 115 W. College Avenue to house the proposed bar is currently owned by the College Ave. District LLC.

However, just across the street at First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, the senior pastor is pushing back.

"As a church and a school, we don't want those establishments and what they'll do and how they'll impact us with 500 feet," said First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Gary Schultz.

Under Tallahassee City Ordinance Section 3-2, a bar can't operate within 500 feet of a church or school.

Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation said if the business violates a local ordinance, a license to serve alcohol won't be issued.

Although representatives declined to go on camera, Pastor Schultz tells me its attorney said the city defines a church as "any building used exclusively for religious services and religious education regularly."

Further arguing because First Baptist also has a gym and restaurant, it shouldn't count.

"We've had good meetings with the owner and the operator where we've talked to them about what it be like to be a good neighbor assuming it goes forward, " said Pastor Schultz.

Pastor Schultz says the congregation has been through hardship with bar-goers before.

A nightclub called Standard was once across from the church.

"We've had previous issues with the bar that was there. We know what that's been like. We don't want to go through that again. We know how it's impacted our property, how it's impacted our ministries," said Pastor Schultz.

Pastor Schultz says church property was regularly damaged when Standard stood across the street.

"The biggest impact would come on evenings like Friday night. Think about Good Friday service where we can hear the music and noise from the bar even during the service. Or encouraging people to come down here and bring their families. There's some hesitancy to come down to that kind of environment," said Schultz.

He says he's fine with nearby restaurants like Harry's and Andrews because those have a different business model where food is the main reason people visit.

Pastor Schultz said the last conversation between all players was Monday. He is expecting a final answer on the future of the business sometime this week.