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Beer in parks talk turns flat

The idea of allowing the sale of beer and wine in Farragut’s parks for special events didn’t sit well with several aldermen at a workshop Thursday, Jan. 13.

The idea was brought up as one of several possible changes to the Town’s beer ordinance, which regulates when and where beer can be served in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and at special events.

“I have an issue with turning our parks into bars, basically,” Alderman Bob Markli said.

The change, if passed, would apply only to non-profits and only for special events. In other words, beer would not be available in Town parks at any time, and regular park-goers still wouldn’t be allowed to bring in alcoholic beverages.

David Smoak said the new rule would apply to events such as The Taste of Farragut — so rather than being held in a parking lot, it could be held in a Town park.

Alderman John Williams said that if beer and wine were allowed in the parks for special events, there would have to be security on-site.

“I don’t think we could have one without the other,” he said.

Alderman Jeff Elliott agreed, saying security or police officers would be necessary for the Town to handle liability issues.

Elliott also expressed concerns on how the parks would be open to regular citizens during special events, and how to separate the special event (which would be allowing alcoholic beverages) from the rest of the park (which would not).

“This is very challenging,” Williams said.

But Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said she didn’t see the problem.

The Town should allow it “in the parks, wherever they want,” she said.

Other beer permit changes discussed were a state law that allows municipalities to ban billiard playing in the same room that alcoholic beverages are being sold, and another law that allows municipalities to require liquor permits from servers in area restaurants.

The first change was quickly talked down, with Mayor Ralph McGill calling it “a silly law.”

“I’ve not heard of any issues,” Town Administrator David Smoak said of the ban on billiards. He said the law was originally written to help quell fights where alcohol is sold, but agreed it probably was not necessary in Farragut.

Markli joked, “I think you may have to be concerned with staining the felt; it gets all sticky.”

The second issue — of requiring a second liquor permit — seemed to strike the Board as being superfluous, since all servers in restaurants with liquor by the drink already have to acquire a permit from the state.

“If it’s already regulated, I think we’re overreaching,” McGill said.

Town Recorder Allison Myers said the Town permit would help the Town keep track of who is serving alcohol, and monitor violators (servers who sold to minors) to ensure they didn’t move from restaurant to restaurant.

Elliott asked who on Town staff would monitor that.

Smoak said monitoring would be difficult.

“It should be the restaurant or bar [who monitors], not us,” LaMarche said.

The Board seemed to agree with her.

The beer permit changes were for discussion only; no vote was taken.


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