The Maverik gas station on Butler Avenue near Sinagua Middle School and Knoles Elementary School has been testing the neighborhood waters about applying for a beer and wine license. The store sent out notices to neighbors a couple of weeks ago, according to Meadows resident Elizabeth Elgin.
The postcard-sized notice, which was also available at the store, stated that the store was working with the city of Flagstaff and the Flagstaff Unified School District on the possibility of applying for a license to sell beer and wine at the store. It also stated that it had the support of both the city and the school district in the endeavor.
Elgin said she was particularly concerned because she has grandchildren who attend one of the schools. She also has neighbors who have raised concerns about the possibility that alcohol sales would attract transients to the nearby Foxglenn Park.
Elgin said she spoke with the principals from Sinagua and Knoles and a representative from the FUSD district office. All three told her they had never spoken to Maverik about the possibility of applying for a license and had not given their support to the matter. She also called the city of Flagstaff and was told that no license application was on file for the store.
Calls and emails to Maverik were not returned before press time. The website with a tab for a survey to collect suggestions from the community about the possible license was still up, but the survey had been replaced with “Thank you for your input.”
Karin Eberhard, the district relations coordinator for FUSD, said, “Due to the proximity of this Maverik to both Sinagua Middle School and Knoles Elementary School, FUSD is not in support of liquor sales at this Maverik.”
The store applied for a beer and wine license in 2012, before the convenience store and gas station were built, but withdrew the application after it faced stiff opposition from FUSD and the neighbors. The Flagstaff City Council recommended the state deny the license.
According to Arizona Revised Statutes, a business can apply for a liquor license from the state if the business is more than 300 feet from a church building, school building or an activity field adjacent to a school. According to Coconino County’s GIS maps, the store is more than 700 feet from the main buildings on the Sinagua property, 187 feet from a portable classroom on the Knoles campus and around 150 feet from the ballfields at Foxglenn Park. However, the ballfields and the park are owned by the city, not the school district.
According to state law, the city could approve an exception to the distance restriction, if it designated the area an “entertainment district.” However, state law defines an entertainment district as an area of no more than one-square mile and less than one-eighth of a mile that contains a “significant number of entertainment, artistic and cultural venues.” The area surrounding the Maverik on Butler Avenue is mostly residential, with the exception of the schools and the park.