Liquor store regulations too restrictive?
Though passed on first reading last month, initial rules to regulate the newly passed liquor stores in Mt. Juliet will probably be tweaked further before becoming law. Seventy one percent of voters in November nodded liquor stores within city limits.
Commissioners charted new ground in their attempt to set guidelines. Such things as how many liquor stores, store hours, how long an owner has lived in the city and county, as well as whether you need to own the property on which to establish a store were discussed, among others. See www.mtjulietnews.com for initial story with details of their proposed regulations. Further discussion and second reading will take place on Dec. 10 at the regularly scheduled city commission meeting.
One city commissioner, District 1's Ray Justice, said some of the proposed regulations hashed out by the commission are simply "way too restrictive."
"I'm more comfortable with allowing our zoning to set the restrictions," he said.
He was part of the commission in 2000 when the city established liquor by the drink, which in-turn helped create Providence Marketplace with its plethora of restaurants, most of which serve liquor.
Justice said the majority of the regulations discussed last month by the commission are "too restrictive."
"I think we need to pick something more in-line with the state law," he said.
One of the decisions made at the last meeting was to close the stores at 9 p.m. State law mandates package liquor stores close by 11 p.m. The 9 p.m. time was chosen because police shift change is at 10 p.m. and commissioners thought the stores would be more vulnerable to criminal activity during a police shift change.
"I'd rather the people can stay open until what the state laws says," noted Justice.
"I don't think Mt. Juliet should be so intrusive because we don't like what we sell. We need to use the rationale we had with liquor by the drink and try to loosen some of it and make it more palatable."
Using a list of zoning regulations might be an answer, said Justice.
"Maybe go before the Board of Zoning Appeal," he suggested.
Commissioners on first reading also decided that there could only be one liquor store per 8,000 residents and that those stores would be owned by people who own the land they are established on. This eliminated a potential liquor store owner to set up shop in a leased space in a strip mall.
According to Justice, Lebanon has no restrictions per population and is regulated by zoning. Hendersonville allows one liquor store per 12,000 residents and where they are is governed by zoning. Brentwood allows one liquor store per 6,000 residents with three in the south and three in the north end of town. Franklin allows one liquor store per 3,000 residents.
Commissioners asked the city's attorney to research several items related to this issue and the attorney, as well as Justice and other commissioners, will also come to the table Dec. 10 with research results.
Mayor Ed Hagerty last meeting said he envisioned four liquor stores in the city; one in the north, south, middle and Shiloh Plaza area.
Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org