The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen have scheduled a workshop to begin developing an ordinance regulating retail package stores for the sale of liquor in the city.
The workshop will be held after adjournment of a special meeting set for Monday, December 15 at 5:00 p.m. at city hall to adopt other unrelated ordinances on second and final reading.
The liquor store issue was briefly discussed during Monday night's regular monthly meeting. City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson passed out ordinances from other towns where liquor stores are already operating. These "sample" ordinances may serve as a guide for the aldermen to consider in establishing regulations for the City of Smithville. "This is about five or six different cities and their ordinances that regulate package stores. This is just something to study. We need to do a lot more research before we start issuing any regulations. We need to sit down and talk about it because we've got to meet all the state regulations. They (state) have more say so on this than we do. We need to do a little more homework before passing these laws because I'm not comfortable enough with giving you information on everything," said Hendrixson.
City Attorney Vester Parsley suggested inviting a representative of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to join the mayor and aldermen at the workshop to provide more information. " This is something that when we finish, we want to have it compliant with state law and to meet the needs of Smithville. I think it would be good to have someone from the ABC to appear. Hunter and I both, and the mayor has had several calls regarding making applications. We're not to that point yet. I feel we're at least a month or two away or possibly longer before we get a workable ordinance and get it approved and get the procedure in place. I think it's important that we work on this and remember we're setting an ordinance that will be used in the foreseeable future for any application for packaged liquor stores in the City of Smithville. If someone asks you, just tell them that we are working on it. We haven't forgotten about it and it's going to take some time to get that in compliance with Tennessee ABC rules and other state statutes we have to comply with," said Parsley.
While the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission actually issues liquor licenses, the city can adopt some restrictions. " Usually municipalities from what I can tell, regulate what zoning they (liquor stores) go in, the number of stores, and the distance from government buildings, churches, and schools. Some (cities) base them (number of stores allowed) on population. Some like Cookeville are wide open based on the free market. There are all sorts of ways to go," said Hendrixson.
Once an ordinance is in place and a store owner makes application, he or she is subject to background checks. " The application starts here and then the chief of police or city attorney does a background check and then we send it to Nashville and they (ABC) give final approval," Hendrixson said.
"Even though they (applicants) may meet our requirements, it's up to ABC to go forward," Parsley added.