published Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

City of Chattanooga cannot revoke Midtown Music Hall club's beer permit

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    Attorneys talk in the courtroom of Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton on Monday in Hamilton County Chancery Court concerning a revoked beer sales permit at Midtown Music Hall. From left are Buddy Presley, Chattanooga City Attorney Kenneth Fritz, Timothy R. Simonds and Chancellor Atherton.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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A chancellor said Monday that the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board could not revoke the beer sales permit of a downtown club because the two citations had not happened within 12 months of each other.

The board's September decision to revoke the permit of Midtown Music Hall based on the two documented citations -- one from August 2011 and another from April 2010 -- do not meet state law requirements for revocation, Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton said.

"Revocation is not an option," he said.

Midtown has been able to operate with its beer permit because the club's owners filed an appeal with Hamilton County Chancery Court. The appeal halts the decision of the board until the business receives a chancellor's decision.

Attorneys for the city and Midtown are scheduled to meet again April 4 to argue what punishments are appropriate. The permit can be suspended and civil penalties imposed by the board or the court.

Police filed reports in August describing disorderly crowds around the establishment that resulted in arrests. At the meeting, police said there have been 52 calls in the past year to Midtown's address.

In April 2010, the club's beer permit was suspended for 10 days after customers walked out with drinks, a violation of the city's beer ordinance.

City Attorney Kenneth Fritz sought to introduce transcripts of beer board meetings in which members discussed Midtown and offered police testimony of other incidents at the club.

"We're talking about fights and assaults on officers," Fritz told Atherton. "The history of Midtown has been before the board four or five times in the last few years and, at some point, enough is enough."

Midtown's attorneys -- Tim Simonds and Buddy Presley -- argued that the judge should not allow any evidence that had not resulted in a citation from the board.

"Virtually all of the incidents that they were alleging were never brought before the board, never alleged in a citation," Simonds said.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6347.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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