He had hoped to be able to start his own in-home research brewery operation , but Alex Seitz has been denied a beer manufacturing permit.
The DeKalb County Beer Board met to act on the application Thursday night. The meeting was covered exclusively by WJLE.
Seitz, who resides on Floyd Drive in Lakeview Mountain Estates, said he would be conducting the brewery primarily for research purposes but small amounts of the byproduct would be bottled and sold to the Calfkiller Brewery in Sparta, a wholesale distributor. Seitz said the brewery would be operated out of his basement and that there would be no retail sales to the public from his home and no signage on the premises. "It technically is a business but it is a research facility. Its science based and will be in incredibly small amounts. It's like a byproduct of the theoretical yeast fermentation process. I will put it (beer) in champagne bottles and then I'll load them in my car and take it away. I just want to be able to work with my yeast so that I can actually sell the yeast because a lot of other home breweries and laboratories would want that yeast," said Seitz in addressing the Beer Board.
While the board voted 3-2 in favor with one member choosing to pass, the application fell one vote short of being approved. For a permit to be granted, four members of the seven member board must vote in the affirmative.
Board members voting in favor were Rhonda Caplinger, Johnny King, and Jim Stagi. Frank Thomas and Leonard Dickens voted against it and Robert Rowe, who presided in the absence of Chairman Edward Frazier, passed.
Dickens and Thomas were apparently concerned about a brewery operating in a residential subdivision. One man who lives in the neighborhood addressed the beer board expressing his opposition. "This is a subdivision restricted solely for residential purposes," he said. His concern is if one business is allowed, others could follow.
Seitz said he has spoken with some neighbors around him and they are not opposed to his plans.
"The book (law) says the first thing (Seitz must do) to do is register with the State of Tennessee," said Dickens who cited TCA 57-5-102 which states "Every person, firm, corporation, joint-stock company, syndicate or association in this state engaging in the manufacture or wholesale distribution of beer shall be required to first register its name and address, by mail or in person, at the office of the commissioner of revenue and to receive and keep posted at its usual place of business a certificate of registration bearing a serial number, which serial number shall be assigned to such person, firm, corporation, joint-stock company, syndicate or association in this state by the commissioner. The registration shall be made and certificate of registration received and posted before commencement of any business as described herein,"
In response to Dickens, other board members said before Seitz can register with the state, he must have a permit issued by the county beer board.
As for neighbor complaints, the permit application form states that "DeKalb County has adopted a rule forbidding the sale of beer and like alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a residential dwelling, if the owner of the dwelling objects to the issuance of a beer permit". Although a neighbor questioned it, Seitz claims no resident in his neighborhood is within 2,000 feet of his home and no one who may live within 300 feet has yet come forward to voice an objection.
The application form also states that "DeKalb County has adopted a rule forbidding the sale, storage, and manufacture of beer and like beverages within 800 feet of schools, churches, and other places of public gathering". This would not be an issue in Seitz's case since no businesses operate in the area.
Beer Board member Caplinger said she had researched the laws and talked with County Attorney Hilton Conger who said the beer board could grant the permit. "He (Conger) said there isn't anything that says we couldn't do it," she said. However, if there are deed restrictions, the homeowners association in the subdivision could try to block it (apparently in the courts). "He can sell it to a wholesaler. People can't pull up to his door step and go in and buy it but he can ship it off to a distributor. (The law says) he may not sell beer directly to retailers and he's not. He is selling it to a wholesaler," said Caplinger.
Meanwhile, the beer board also voted Thursday night to require TBI and FBI criminal background checks of all future applicants for permits. Under T.C.A. § 57-5-103(e), a city or county is authorized to seek criminal history background or fingerprint checks on applicants for beer permits. These criminal background checks may include fingerprint checks against state and federal criminal records maintained by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In other action, the Beer Board voted to accept an application for an on premises permit from Ross Garrett for Edgar Evins Marina-Ship's Store at 2100 Edgar Evins Park Road, Silver Point in DeKalb County.
The board also accepted an application for an on and off premises permit from Araceli Soto Godinez for Nicoles Market on Short Mountain Highway.
Final action on both applications will be considered at the next meeting in August.