An Open Letter to the City of Fort Smith,
The decision last night regarding Microbreweries was not what many expected, but now is not the time to point fingers and play the blame game. Just because things do not go exactly as planned does not make anyone else responsible or cause a need for retreat. Fort Smith has benefited from this process and we need to cultivate these positives if we wish to make Fort Smith great again.
Prior to last night’s decision, Microbreweries were not allowed in C6 zoned areas. Now they are allowed, so that is a huge compliment to the Board of Directors. C6 zoned areas are the Downtown district. However, the Board decided that Microbreweries would constitute a conditional use in C5 zoned areas (commercial zones throughout the rest of the city). As a result, Microbreweries will still need to pay a fee and go through the same process we just went through every time they want to operate in a C5 zoned area. This is what the board concluded and so every Microbrewery must operate in those parameters for the time being. It is not the end of the world, but definitely not conducive for small business owners. As far as blaming the Board of Directors, they are elected officials and are responsible for representing their districts. If you did not like your representatives decision, that needs to be a conversation between your district and your representative. There is no pandemic problem with the Board as a whole.
One positive outcome is that the Board of Directors absolutely heard Fort Smith’s voice. All the conversations and community involvement to band together most certainly captivated the Board’s attention, to the point where certain Board members became visibly emotional over the decision. Fort Smith came together and sparked change, small change, but change, nonetheless. We have met a lot of new people in this ordeal and there are many groups that want to see change in Fort Smith. These groups need to coalesce together for an even stronger voice. TalkBusiness.net, which started the conversation in the first place, did a great job of following the events and keeping the community involved. The true testament in the resolve of a community is how they respond to defeat.
Microbreweries across the country have gone through this exact same headache with their respective legislature, so no one is to blame. As a city, Fort Smith needs to press forward with the momentum we have gained through this process and collectively support the next decision that is going to promote change in Fort Smith. As for Fort Smith Brewing Company, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!”
With Much Thanks,
Fort Smith Brewing Company