Pikeville, Tenn., officials last night held the first reading on an ordinance setting the rules for liquor-by-the-drink and retail package sales in Bledsoe County's lone town.
Starting this week, the city is taking applications from people interested in adding liquor by the drink at a restaurant or opening one of two package stores to be allowed in town, Mayor Philip Cagle said.
Even though the town's liquor rules still must pass a total of three readings, officials don't want to hold up applicants who face a lot of paperwork to file with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Cagle said. The commission ultimately issues all licenses.
Pikeville was among a handful of communities with liquor on local election ballots in Nov. 6 elections. Pikeville voters passed referendums for by-the-drink sales and package sales after having shot the measures down two years ago, records show.
So far, Pikeville's rules on package stores will limit the number in town to two, and those establishments will be chosen in a blind drawing, Cagle said. All names will be put in the order drawn so there are already-approved applicants in line in case the first applicants drop out.
Cagle said officials don't want applicants to have to go through the process more than once. "Our goal is being able to draw the two qualified recipients by our March meeting," he said.
For liquor by the drink, there are no limitations on the number of establishments, but there are common distance regulations for liquor-serving eateries and package stores, he said.
Cagle said the draft ordinance sets a 500-foot minimum distance from churches, schools, day cares and funeral homes. That could change in the next three readings, he said, but it's not likely.
Any changes will be relayed to applicants.
Alejandro "Alex" Orizaba, owner of Los Panchos on Main Street, was a major supporter of legal liquor sales and plans to be among the first in line for an application.
"I'm probably going to go in to talk to them today," Orizaba said Monday.
Orizaba said city officials have something of a learning curve with the new alcohol rules, and he hopes to be present when state officials visit to discuss requirements.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...