Lowndes Circuit Court affirms revocation of Skyy Boxx Bar & Grill business license

Published 7:11 pm Friday, April 7, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Lowndes County Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell has ruled that a decision by the Fort Deposit Town Council to revoke the business license of the Skyy Boxx Bar & Grill was not “arbitrary or capricious” and affirmed the town council’s action.

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In an order issued on Tuesday, April 4, Lovell ruled in favor of Mayor Fletcher Fountain and the Fort Deposit Town Council against Senika Sellers, who was the applicant for the business’ ABC Board alcohol license, and Keith Bailey, who has been identified as the business owner and manager.

According to lectlaw.com, “arbitrary or capricious” means an action was an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law or taken without observance of procedure required by law.

Here is the sequence of events that led to the ruling on April 4:

Fountain revoked the business license for the Skyy Boxx Bar & Grill.

Sellers and Bailey sought an injunction, upon which Lovell allowed the business to continue to operate until a hearing was held by the Fort Deposit Town Council.

At a hearing by the council on March 2, the business license was revoked.

Following the decision by the council, Sellers and Bailey sought an amended petition for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction and for a writ of certiorari against Fountain and the town. Fountain and the town made a motion that the injunction be dismissed.

A hearing on the matter was held on Monday, March 27 at which attorney J. McGowin Williamson of Greenville, representing Sellers and Bailey, and attorney Arlene M. Richardson of Highland Home, representing the town, made legal arguments.

Richardson said she “went through in front of the judge all of the people who had complained and what the complaints were and the nearby businesses being disrupted…”

She said those were “nuisances” and that there were “public safety issues” and that “all of those things would justify what the Town Council did.”

Williamson declined to the comment at that time.

According to court documents, on April 4, Lovell ordered, “The court has reviewed the transcript and the evidence presented at the March 2, 2017 special meeting of the town of Fort Deposit regarding the Skyy Boxx Bar & Grill business license. Having considered the evidence and the applicable law, the court finds that the plaintiffs have not met their burden to establish that the decision of the Fort Deposit Town Council to revoke the plaintiffs business license was arbitrary and capricious; therefore, it is ordered that the decision of the town of Fort Deposit revoking plaintiffs’ business license is affirmed and judgement is entered in favor of the defendants, Mayor Fletcher Fountain and Town of Fort Deposit against the plaintiffs Shenika Sellers and Keith Bailey.”

“This was a good thing for the town of Fort Deposit to happen in that it shows that the council cares enough about the citizens to stand up when they need to and make sure that our community is a community that families can enjoy peacefully,” Richardson said following the judge’s ruling.

At the March 2 hearing before the Fort Deposit Town Council, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeremy Marvin reported on incidents responded to by law enforcement “due to the crowd leaving the Skyy Boxx.”

Citizens came forward to complain about loud music and hearing gunshots from the location, which they said is surrounded by residences.

Richardson showed the council a video of a dance contest called “twerking” with girls participating who Richardson described as looking “extremely young.”

She also showed the council a photo in which she said 111 individuals were counted inside the Skyy Boxx Bar & Grill, a building which she said was made to hold 40 people.

Bailey said following the council’s action on March 2, “They were absolutely atrocious. No laws have been broken. No rules have been broken.”

He said other businesses were breaking the law and for the council to revoke the Skyy Boxx Bar & Grill’s business license was “totally wrong.”

Richardson confirmed for the Signal that Sellers and Bailey could still appeal Lovell’s April 4 ruling to the court of civil appeals.

The Signal reached out to attorney Williamson, who declined to comment.