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FBMA delays liquor vote again

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen members voted Thursday, Feb. 22, to again postpone creation of an amendment to the town liquor store ordinance, citing a need for more research and information into certain aspects of the ordinance.

Tom Hale, town attorney, said the Board had reached agreement on some issues.

“We’ve discussed this at three previous meetings and have been evolving this ordinance over time,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say we have reached a general consensus on a lot of things.”

Hale said Board members directed him at the previous FBMA meeting to look into how the state deals with liquor stores that change locations, sell their stores to a third party and what happens to a license in the event a store owner dies.

“The law says retail licenses are personal in nature and they are not transferable,” he said. “State stipulations govern the location of a store, but those locations can be governed by a municipality.”

Hale suggested some changes in a draft of the ordinance, including differentiating between an off-premise consumption outlet and an on-premise consumption outlet, such as a restaurant.

Hale said the Board hadn’t reached a consensus on the ability of a liquor store applicant to transfer a license from one location to another; or, if a store opts to move, would that open up the filed for other liquor store applicants to come in and vie for a location in the town.

Applicants have to go before the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission before obtaining a license, but Hale said the state requires a certificate of compliance from the municipality where a store would be located.

“I like the idea of a person who builds equity and goodwill in a store has the right to sell it or pass it on,” Vice Mayor Mike Haynes said.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III posed the question to Hale of what happens in the event an applicant gets a license for a location and an entity, such as a church, builds near the store? Would the liquor store be grandfathered in? Hale said he would look into the matter.

Alderman Joel Garber asked what criteria would be used by FBMA members to decide among several applicants who would be best.

Hale said Board members would have to use their judgment and decide which would be in the best interest of the town and its residents.

Michael Harb of Southernpalm Inc., filed for the amendment of the town municipal code concerning the location of liquor store outlets several weeks ago. Harb is seeking to purchase the current Aubrey’s property and develop it into a package store.

In other business, FBMA members decided they didn’t want to get into the real estate business and purchase the Rural/Metro building at 160 N. Campbell Station Road.

“I have a concern about the town going into the leasing business,” Alderman Tom Rosseel said. “I feel that should be left to the private sector.”

“I want Rural Metro to continue its presence in Farragut, but I’m concerned about us getting into the leasing business,” Alderman Joel Garber said.

Haynes and Alderman Mary Dorothy “Dot” LaMarche made similar statements.

Ford said the topic of the town buying the building came up last year when he had breakfast with former chief Karl Keierleber. Ford said Keierleber told him the building was sinking and Rural Metro’s general manager made the decision to sell the building. Ford instructed town staff to look into the matter.

Assistant town administrator Gary Palmer said it would cost the town at least $1.5 million to purchase, stabilize and update the building.


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