Neighborhood Liquor & Smoke denied renewed liquor license


Photo by Katherine Kealey/ Iowa State Daily

Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher, Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin, Ward 3 Rep. Anita Rollins and City Manager Steve Schainker during an Ames City Council meeting on May 10.

The Ames City Council moved to not renew Neighborhood Liquor & Smokes’ liquor license at the advice of Ames Police Chief Geoff Huff.

The Neighborhood can appeal the council’s decision to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, but if they are denied for a second time, then they can appeal to an Administrative Law Judge. If they are denied again, then they can appeal to the Director of the Alcoholic Beverages Division. If they are denied again, they can conclusively appeal to the District Courts.

If the Neighborhood is completely denied in their appeals, then the establishment can not sell alcohol for one year unless a new licensee applies for and is granted a valid license.

Neighborhood Liquor & Smokes

According to city documents, City Manager Steve Schainker stated that city staff does not have confidence the staff of Neighborhood Liquor will comply with the requirements for holding a liquor license.

Huff said the Neighborhood has failed three compliance checks in three years. Brietta Voss, a parent and resident of Ames, shared her disapproval with the Neighborhood during public comment.

“Our son, along with many other underaged children, have found that they can purchase alcohol, vapes and vape pods from the Neighborhood Liquor Mart without ever being carded,” Voss said. “The store’s negligence to follow the law has provided an opportunity for my son to purchase illegal items at the age of 17, at his own free will, as late as Sept. 17, 2022.”

Voss said her son would buy nicotine products and sell them to all his friends and use them for his own vice. Ultimately, Voss said her son required rehabilitation to address his addiction to both nicotine and alcohol. She said the Neighborhood regularly sold to her son without asking for identification.

“They have become my son’s and many other teenagers’ drug dealer,” Voss said. “The choice of drug is alcohol and nicotine.”

Humza Firoz, vice president of Neighborhood Liquor Mart, said their first offense came as the result of an honest mistake. He said they received the offense when the store had first opened, and none of the employees were equipped with the resources required to discern a real ID from a fake.

Firoz said he believes the second offense was retaliatory, as the former employee who committed the offenses was set to be terminated by the end of the day.

“Based on that, I’m led to believe that this may have been intentional to get back at me as an employer for terminating him,” Firoz said. “Since then, we have suffered the consequences for this.”

Since their second offense, Firoz said the store now has a permanent ID scanner to catch fake and underage IDs, adding that he and his team are working hard to make sure they are following all of the rules and doing the right thing.

“We genuinely do not want children on the streets to have access to anything along the lines of alcohol or tobacco,” Firoz said.

Firoz said their third offense was the result of a new employee’s genuine mistake, adding that the aforementioned employee was flustered when the worst-case scenario happened.

Renaming Ames Municipal Airport

The council moved to officially rename the Ames Municipal Airport to the James Herman Banning Ames Municipal Airport, with Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin being the only council member to vote against it.

Banning was first Black aviator to be licensed by the United States Department of Commerce in 1927 and was a former resident of Ames.

“What I’d like to focus on is what we could have done differently,” Gartin said. “I am not dissenting on this because I have any opposition towards Mr. Banning himself– frankly it was very interesting to learn about Mr. Banning. My concern is that the process was not inclusive.”

Gartin said in previously seeking public input on the name change, the council was made aware of other individuals who have had a substantial impact on the airport and the larger Ames community. He added the council was not able to properly take the other names into consideration because the process from its inception was only taking one name into consideration.

“I think it’s important that as we do things in the future, we try to avoid a process that is limited to just one name and that we would give a full consideration to others, and that’s why I’m dissenting on tonight’s vote,” Gartin said.

Steven L. Schainker Plaza

The council moved to name the Ames Downtown Plaza after the Ames City Manager, dubbing the plaza Steven L. Schainker Plaza.

According to city documents, Schainker is considered a historic person and an outstanding individual, describing him as someone who has contributed to the history of Ames.

Schainker began his work with the City of Ames in July of 1979 as an assistant city manager and assumed the position of city manager on Oct. 5, 1982.

The resolution, according to city documents, has the endorsement of two former mayors of Ames, Ted Tedesco and Ann H. Campbell.

Urban Renewal Area Plan

The council moved to approve expanding the tax abatement schedule as long as there are façade improvements. In August, the council received a request from Dylan Kline of the Ames Economic Development Commission to consider two changes to the Downtown Urban Revitalization Area (URA). The proposed changes include altering the qualifications for the abatement of projects and allowing for a partial property tax abatement schedule of three, five or ten years.

The Downtown URA only allows for the abatement of projects that include façade improvements and a property tax abatement schedule of three years. However, the council wanted more input from community members on abatement for incremental improvements on specific uses like a residential second floor or entertainment and food options.

Additionally, the council voted to approve a URA plan for 2105 and 2421 North Dayton Avenue to incentivize the creation of a small-lot industrial subdivision with the conditions to include an extension of the sanitary sewer line and updating the stormwater management plan.

A public hearing on the matter will be held Dec. 13, 2022.