The City of Smithville may soon allow stores with off premises permits to sell packaged beer twenty four hours a day, seven days a week including Sundays and to allow eligible restaurants to obtain an on-premises permit to serve beer with meals in their establishments.
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By a vote of 3-1-1, the Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted to adopt an ordinance amending the Smithville Code of Ordinances regulating beer sales.
(PLAY VIDEO BELOW OF CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF CHANGES TO BEER REGULATIONS)
Alderman Danny Washer proposed the changes and made a motion to adopt the ordinance amendment on first reading. Alderman Gayla Hendrix offered a second to the motion. Alderman Jason Judd Murphy joined Washer and Hendrix in voting for it. Alderman Tim Stribling voted against it. Alderman Shawn Jacobs passed saying he could not support it because of his being an elder at the Smithville Church of Christ.
Second and final reading will follow a public hearing at a special meeting set for Thursday, December 27 at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.
Under the city's existing beer regulations, "It shall be unlawful for any beer permit holder to make or allow any sale of beer between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. during any night of the week, at any time on Sunday, and at any time on Christmas Day"
The proposed ordinance amendment would change the regulations to simply make it lawful for a beer permit holder to sell beer twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
A new section would be added to the ordinance allowing eligible restaurants to obtain an on-premises permit to sell beer with meals.
Alderman Hendrix said she believes Smithville is losing a lot of tax revenue by not lifting the restrictions on beer sales. "With Center Hill Lake, we're such a tourist area and something like this can bring in a lot of tax revenue to our small city because we have so many people coming into the lake from March through October and then even fishermen in the winter. By not doing this all we're doing is giving our tax revenue to surrounding areas. I think it would generate a lot of money for our city. I've heard a lot of comments from people at Center Hill Lake that are coming in from Nashville, Franklin, and Rutherford County, because they come here and then they're frustrated because a lot of them don't realize they can't buy this here and then they have to drive to Cookeville because it's the closest. It's not convenient for our tourists. I'd like to bring more tourism into this community and not have obstacles preventing this," she said.
"I know there will be some concern about the hours," said Alderman Washer. "But we get a lot of tourists who come in here and utilize our lake. They're not coming in here at twelve o'clock and going to the lake. They're coming early. They want to come and make one stop. And they don't just buy beer. They buy gas. They buy snacks, everything they need. Ice, whatever. They want to get it in one stop. They don't want to have to haul it down here. They want to wait until they get here. About the early morning or late at night. If you work second shift and you get off and want to go buy beer, you can't do it because everything is shut down. Right now I think we only have one store that stays open twenty four, seven. You're putting it into a small area but it will allow it for people who want to take it home and relax and not have to get up and go get it the next day. Its just a convenience. And to keep the money in town, that's going out of town. We need that. We've been wasting a lot of money, letting it go somewhere else. I hope people understand that," said Alderman Washer
"I would like to say that I don't doubt that this is a good policy decision for the board to make," said Alderman Jacobs. " I am concerned however that we have had on the ballot this year two referendums that would have liberalized the sale of alcohol in the city limits and both of those were defeated so that gives me some concern. But I want to say up front that I have a clear conflict of interest in this in that I am a church elder and I don't think I can vote on this ordinance as an alderman and then also as a church elder I don't think I can vote yes to it and still honor God and honor the commitment I have to my congregation. That's the reason I am voting the way I'm voting is because I do feel I have a definite conflict of interest," he said.
The proposed ordinance states as follows:
Section 1: A Class 1 On Premises Permit shall be issued for the consumption of beer only on the premises. To qualify for a Class 1 On Premises permit, an establishment must, in addition to meeting the other regulations and restrictions in this Chapter:
(A) Be primarily a restaurant or an eating place; and
(B) Be able to seat a minimum of thirty people in booths and at tables, in addition to any other seating it may have; and
(C) All seating must be part of the premises. In case of any outdoor seating, the outdoor seating area must be accessible from the inside of the restaurant or eating place and the outdoor seating area must have some type of enclosure around it, such as a wall or fencing; and
(D) In addition to the requirements of subsection 8-210(1) (a) through (c), the monthly beer sales of any establishment which holds a Class 1 On Premises Permit shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the monthly gross sales of the establishment. As used herein, the term "gross sales" means all retail sales of the permit holder plus any applicable taxes. As used herein, the term "beer sales" includes all retail beer sales plus any taxes applicable to beer sales"
Section 2: Section 8-211 Prohibited conduct or activities by beer permit holders: Section 8-211 (2) is hereby amended by changing the following text: "Make or allow any sale of beer between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. during any night of the week, at any time on Sunday, and at any time on Christmas Day to the following: "Make or allow any sale of beer between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. during any night of the week".