By Fred Woods

The principle of equal justice under law might have influenced the American legal system but not necessarily the Lee County Commission.
About six weeks ago the commission unanimously turned down Darryl Cannon’s application for an on-premise liquor license for the Iron Horse combination bar and restaurant with a dance area at the intersection of Highway 51 and Lee Road 44. The application was rejected after two area residents stated their opposition to the proposal, citing proximity to schools and to residential neighborhoods and opening on a heavily-traveled road.
In the commission’s meeting Monday night, Cannon, through his attorney, Walter Northcutt, petitioned for a rehearing of his application. Northcutt presented maps and other information showing that there were no residential neighborhoods in the immediate area, the nearest school and church were at least three miles away and that the Iron Horse would open on Lee Road 44, not the heavier travelled Highway 51.
Citing a list of establishments that had been awarded beer or liquor licenses and were closer to schools, churches and neighborhoods than his client,  Northcutt asked that his client be considered under the same standards. He also presented a petition signed by 105 Lee County citizens, 51 of whom live near the Iron Horse property, in favor of granting the license.
In spite of the presentation, the commission took no action; thus, the original decision to deny the request remains.
County engineer Justin Hardee reported that the new bridge across Bird Creek on Lee Road 70 in northwest Lee County had been opened to traffic Nov. 24. The new structure, a two-lane bridge with a 40-ton load capacity, replaces the original one-lane, five-ton load limit 1930s-era bridge that fell into the creek in April 2013. The Lee County Highway Department, using its own personnel and equipment, completed the job in five months and at a considerable financial savings over contracting with an outside company.
The commission also:
– approved a four percent merit pay increase for Hardee and County Administrator Roger Rendleman based on the commissioners’ performance evaluations.
– heard from Smiths Station-area resident Tim Frost over concerns with road maintenance and drainage problems in the Lakes Subdivision off Lee Road 500. Problematically, the road has not been accepted for county maintenance as the developer did not build to county specifications; Phenix City has annexed a portion of the subdivision but doesn’t want to accept responsibility for the road; and it is not clear who owns the lake that is the source of the drainage problem. Hardee will meet with his Phenix City counterpart and report back.