Judge overrules denial of New Star liquor license - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Judge overrules denial of New Star liquor license

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A judge is reversing the Waterloo City Council's decision to deny a liquor license for a new convenience store. Last month, the council voted 4-2 against a license for the New Star on Ansborough Avenue. Thursday, a judge determined the council had no reason to turn the owner down.

When the owner, Mamoon Akhtar, applied for the license, he had to prove he is a person of "good moral character." Judge Margaret LaMarche said he did everything asked of him. Akhtar got the city's zoning approval to open this convenience store, has no prior criminal charges, and made his financial and leasing information available in his application.

If you're in a hurry to get to work, or to get home, having a convenience store like New Star on the corner is, well, convenient.

"The one that was here before was really bare, not a lot to offer, so a lot of people quit coming. Now that this is here, and they have so much stuff, I see business picking up here," said shopper Samantha Showalter.

Now the owner can add liquor to the items available at the old gas station on Ansborough and Black Hawk Road. Showalter, for one, believes the judge made a good decision.

"I think they have every reason to be able to sell it. They haven't done anything to violate any laws or anything," she said.

The majority of city council members had a different take. They believe there are simply too many liquor stores in town... And when a new one pops up, trouble is not far behind.

Council member Steve Schmitt is one of the four who said "no" to New Star's license.

"These liquor stores seem to bring some things with them, like the littering and the loitering and occasionally the violence, and some other misbehavior. So that was what we were trying to stop. That was our goal," he said.

A judge decided, legally, the council's aim is misdirected. If council members want fewer liquor stores, they'll have to change the city's regulations. It's not enough to just say no.

"What it's probably going to do is cause us to take a look at the ordinances again and see if we can do something. Because obviously from a legal standpoint, what we did is not going to hold up," Schmitt added.

We attempted to contact the owner, Mamoon Akhtar, by phone and by stopping at both of his New Star locations. We also called his lawyer, Frank Nidey. Neither returned our calls.

Although the city is saying they'll go along with the judge's ruling, there is an option for neighbors to fight the decision. Court documents state any party who is "adversely affected" can appeal within 30 days.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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