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FBMA considers more liquor stores


The Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen spent more than two hours of its Jan. 11 meeting hashing out the framework of an ordinance that would allow the creation of more liquor stores inside town limits.

The issue was brought about by businessman Michael Harb, who made an application to the FBMA to amend the town ordinance limiting liquor stores to three geographic areas: Dixie Lee Junction, Campbell Station Road near Interstate 40 and near the outlets mall. Harb has made an offer to purchase the current Aubrey’s restaurant property contingent upon the town opening the door for a liquor store to be placed on that property.

Board members spent the time weighing pros and cons of such an ordinance. They sought ways to balance opening the doors for businesses with protection for Farragut residents and staying inside state law

requirements.

Tom Hale, town attorney, advised Board members how state laws and court decisions affected the matter.

“The state statutes allow municipalities to restrict the number of outlets within the boundaries as long as it doesn’t restrict the ability of residents to buy liquor,” he said.

Hale said state regulations allow the limitations on the number of outlets as long as the reason for the regulation is defensible.

“Court decisions indicate the less regulation the better unless you have a good reason for doing so, such as the health, safety and welfare of the citizens,” he said.

Hale said the responsibility of the FBMA was to decide whether it was appropriate to restrict liquor stores or to remove the existing restrictions. If the Board did decide to restrict to a certain area, then the town needed to have a good reason for restricting liquor stores to a certain area.

The two existing liquor stores would be grandfathered in under any new amendment to the

ordinance.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III opened the discussion on the matter and said he thought the town’s current ordinance would be defensible.

“Our liquor ordinance has served the town well for over twenty-two years until tonight,” he said. “However, the town has also grown over those twenty-two years.”

Ford said the original intent of the ordinance was to limit liquor stores to outlying areas since the town doesn’t have its own police force. The thought was to limit the stores to those areas so the police could get to them easier than if they were in the heart of Farragut.

“Crime does take place at liquor stores,” Ford said. “That is a fact. I believe in limiting the stores to a certain number. The question is what number.”

Ford said he favored limiting the locations of the liquor stores.

“I have a concern about limiting it geographically,” said Vice Mayor Mike Haynes. “I agree with the mayor about limiting the number. I’d be comfortable going from three to four stores.”

Alderman Tom Rosseel agreed on limiting the number and location of liquor stores saying, “If we only locate them on major arterials, that would take care of the police.”

Rosseel suggested an amendment to the ordinance include an escalator clause that allows for the creation of a liquor store for every 4,999 increase in town population.

“As far as the number of outlets, I hope we come up with something that isn’t arbitrary,” said Alderman Joel Garber. “Being based on population is something arbitrary.”

Garber said he was in favor of restricting stores to commercial zones.

“I’d caution about opening the door to any C-1 zone,” Ford said. “I’d be in favor of limiting the number to five or six stores.”

Haynes said he was in favor of having four stores and allowing an escalator clause, such as the one Rosseel mentioned.

“I’m concerned about tying it to the main roads,” Haynes said. “I’d rather keep the ordinance loose than restrict it to specific sites.”

Ford suggested limiting the locations to specific areas, such as Parkside Drive and the central core of the town.

“What’s the justification for limiting it to specific sites?” Garber said. “It might seem that would just benefit someone.”

Board members directed town staff to develop an amendment to the ordinance that would allow five liquor stores in the town with an increase of one store per every additional 5,000 residents as the town grows. These stores would be restricted to be 340 feet building to building away from schools, churches, parks, mortuaries and platted subdivisions. The ordinance would allow liquor stores to not be any less than 1,500 feet away from each other.

Businesses wanting to build a liquor store, such as the one Harb proposes, would still have to go through the application process with the town and adhere to zoning restrictions.

The ordinance could go before the Board at the Jan. 25

meeting.

 

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