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Auburn bars get game-day reprieve; council OKs tax breaks

Auburn bars get game-day reprieve; council OKs tax breaks

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Downtown Auburn Aug. 22

People gather at Southeastern Bar on a recent Saturday night in downtown Auburn.

Correction:  The photo caption with a photo accompanying this story when it first published incorrectly stated when the photo was taken. The photo was a file photo taken in early September or late August. The O-A News apologizes for the error.

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Auburn’s state of emergency was extended Tuesday, but the city council also gave downtown bar owners a break for game days.

The city council voted 6-3 to grant Mayor Ron Anders’ request to keep the order in place through Oct. 7. He made the request after conferring with Auburn University and East Alabama Medical Center officials, who urged him to extend the state of emergency.

Anders said the order should stay in place a bit longer because it appears to be working – reported cases at East Alabama Medical Center have stabilized and Auburn University had a precipitous drop in self-reported cases last week.

The extension continues police monitoring of social distancing in downtown bars, as well as prohibiting customers from getting their own drinks inside bars.

Councilman Jay Hovey was one of the votes against the extension. He said he understood the public health motivations behind the order, but he couldn’t support the mayor’s request.

“I understand and respect what we’re trying to do here…I just hate to see whose livelihood depends on a normal course of action be shut down by some actions we take,” Hovey said.

Outside

The council did vote 8-1, however, to allow downtown bars to serve walk-up customers outside for the first two Auburn football games of the season, as requested by downtown business owners.

Anders said city officials would monitor the situation downtown for the Kentucky and Georgia games, then decide whether to continue with the relaxed outside restrictions.

City police will continue to issue citations for noncompliance, however. City Manager Jim Buston said there have been 14 citations thus far – five to businesses and nine to house parties.

Tax breaks

The council agreed to transfer tax breaks to Wheel Pros, which is taking over Borbet Alabama’s site in the city’s Technology Park North. Wheel Pros had planned to purchase the manufacturing equipment from Borbet, but city officials convinced them to take over the plant.

The council also voted to amend the tax breaks for Shinhwa Auto USA Corp at its future location in the Auburn Technology Park West Annex, to reflect the company’s expansion of the scale of the site.

Annexation

The city council did not approve the annexation of 24 acres on the north side of Wire Road east of the Auburn Soccer Complex, nor rezoning it from Rural to Limited Development District.

Councilman Bob Parsons opposed unanimous consent, which prevented the council from voting on the annexation Tuesday night. He said he wants more information about the proposed development for the site before voting. The annexation will appear on the council’s Oct. 6 agenda and be subject to a public hearing.

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