The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen have begun discussions on developing an ordinance regulating the sale of liquor from retail package stores in Smithville. No ordinance has yet been prepared but after a workshop held Monday night, city officials have a better idea of what they would like to see in the ordinance in terms of regulations.
The workshop was held at city hall.
While liquor licenses can only be issued by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the city has the authority to develop local guidelines for applicants. For example, the city may establish minimum distance requirements between liquor stores and churches, schools, etc. The aldermen may also regulate the size of stores in terms of square footage; impose residency requirements for applicants; and limit the number of licensed liquor stores that may operate within the city.
Local businessman Jewel Redman, who attended Monday night's workshop, asked the aldermen not to limit the number of stores. "You should give everybody a chance at it and the ones who have the best business will survive and the others won't. That's the only fair way of doing it," said Redman.
Alderman Shawn Jacobs said he preferred limiting the number of stores to no more than three. Jacobs said he would also like to pattern the local ordinance after Crossville's which establishes in-door advertising restrictions so that motorists can't see the signage from the streets. " I know I am in the minority but I'd like to go on record and say that I would like to see the advertising restrictions be similar to what Crossville has and I would like to see a limit of three stores," said Alderman Jacobs.
Alderman Jason Murphy questioned whether it would be necessary to limit the number of liquor stores. "I think even if we don't set a limit, I bet we wouldn't have three stores. I don't think we'd have the business to support it," said Murphy.
Alderman Gayla Hendrix added that she thought it would be discriminatory to establish limits on the number of stores. "I don't think it's right to set a limit. There's not going to be many people to qualify for this but just putting a limit on it is showing discrimination. It's going to fix itself," she said.
"I don't want to be one of them (persons) to decide who gets it and who don't," said Alderman Danny Washer, who is also opposed to limiting the number of stores.
Mayor Jimmy Poss said while he doesn't have a vote on this, he too is against the city limiting the number of stores that can operate. "It'll be up to you guys but I don't think we need to limit it. It'll play itself out," he said.
Regarding minimum distance requirements, Alderman Josh Miller said he preferred setting it for liquor stores the same as those called for in the city's beer ordinance, which is 400 feet between stores selling alcohol and churches, schools, etc.
As far as residency, the aldermen discussed patterning the local ordinance after Mount Juliet's which requires applicants to have lived in the city for at least two years or in Wilson County for at least five years in order to be able to obtain an application.
City attorney Vester Parsley and City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson suggested preparing a couple of "sample' ordinances for the aldermen to take a look at during the next meeting on Monday, January 5th.
Once an ordinance is adopted, persons may apply. Even if there is a limit on the number of stores that may operate, there would be no limit on applications. Applicants would be subject to criminal background checks by the city attorney and police chief, which could take up to 30 days. After background checks are completed, applications would be reviewed by the Board of Aldermen, who would then issue a certificate of compliance to those who qualify, a process which could take up to sixty days. The certificates of compliance would then be forwarded by the city to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which has its own requirements for applicants to meet. Even if the city finds an applicant eligible, the state ABC Commission could still reject an applicant for a liquor license.