ROGERSVILLE - Voters in three Hawkins County municipalities approved liquor referendums November 6, but there are still several steps for the cities to take before a customer can walk into a restaurant and order a drink. In Church Hill the margin of victory for the liquor by the drink referendum was 236 votes, 1,341 for and 1,105 against. Mount Carmel voters approved liquor by the drink by 221 votes, 1,168 for the proposal and 947 against. In Rogersville, however, the margin of victory for the liquor by the drink referendum was just seven votes, 708 to 701. A separate package store referendum authorizing the retail sale of alcohol in Rogersville passed with 707 votes for the proposal and 663 against. Rogersville City Attorney Bill Phillips said the first step for each city will involve repealing an ordinance already on the books, with the Rogersvilles's current code of ordinances stating "it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, receive, possess, store, transport, sell, furnish, or solicit orders for any intoxicating liquor within the Town of Rogersville." "I've already drafted that (the ordinance repealing the prohibition) and we're adding several sections that say you can have liquor on the premises and setting the level of tax the city will receive," Phillips explained, adding that the Board of Mayor and aldermen will get their first look at the ordinances at November's BMA meeting. Regarding liquor stores, Phillips noted the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission actually issues licenses but the city must first take several steps. "The city issues a certificate of compliance but the ABC determines who gets a license, the attorney added. According to Tennessee Code Annotated 57-3-208, the certificate of compliance, which accompanies a liquor package store application must state: the applicant or applicants who are to be in actual charge of the business have not been convicted of a felony within a ten-year period immediately preceding the date of application and, if a corporation, that the executive officers or those in control have not been convicted of a felony within a ten-year period immediately preceding the date of the application; that the applicant or applicants have secured a location for the business which complies with all restrictions of any local law, ordinance, or resolution, duly adopted by the local jurisdiction, as to the location of the business; that the applicant or applicants have complied with any local law, ordinance or resolution duly adopted by the local authorities regulating the number of retail licenses to be issued within the jurisdiction. Phillips also said the city can adopt some restrictions limiting the location of retail liquor stores and the number of licenses issued within their jurisdictions. State law says, however, "no local law, ordinance or resolution may limit the location and number of licenses authorized under 57-3-204, so as to unreasonably restrict the availability of alcoholic beverages for the residents of such municipalities." "I would think that the Board would want to take some time and look at the information presented Tuesday (November 13) and come back at the December meeting and take some action," Phillips explained. "We have to adopt any ordinance on three readings so it will probably be the February meeting before we give the enabling ordinances final approval. I expect in March we will be ready for one to open." The attorney also noted that liquor sales will also have a positive impact on revenues. "I don't think there is any doubt about that. We are definitely going to see a lot of new revenue," the attorney added.
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