No liquor store vote coming this year in Ringgold, Ga.

No liquor store vote coming this year in Ringgold, Ga.

September 12th, 2017 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

Wine bottles are displayed at Imbibe Chattanooga, a wine-focused liquor store, on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Ringgold, Ga., voters will not decide whether to allow liquor stores in that city this year.

Developer Alvin Mashburn's attempt to put a referendum on this November's ballot failed. Mashburn hoped voters would approve a change in city law to allow him to open a liquor store on Battlefield Highway, but he did not get enough signatures on a petition to add the item to this year's ballot.

Mashburn needed 698 signatures by the end of last week. That would represent 35 percent of the voters who participated in the last Ringgold city election. Instead, Mashburn received about 170 signatures.

Catoosa County Elections Superintendent Tonya Moore said Mashburn told him last Wednesday he would not be able to put the item on the ballot. But, Mashburn said Monday, he hopes to bring the issue up again next year.

"We'll see how it works out," he said. "But we're definitely going to pursue it as long as it takes to get the signatures."

Mashburn said he hired someone earlier this year to collect signatures for the vote. But a couple of weeks ago, he realized the man was not doing the job. So he hired a new petitioner, who worked as quickly as he could to collect enough signatures. Mashburn and some employees held events to promote the referendum, including a signature drive at Wrath Brewery on Sept. 2.

All told, he said, they only gained about 80 signatures. Still, Mashburn hopes to build on the momentum. He wants to host a forum for Ringgold City Council candidates before the November election. Attendees could then sign the petition there. (He and Mayor Nick Millwood have not fleshed out the details on the forum.)

Mashburn said he may pay to hold a special election next March, if he has enough signatures to put the referendum on a ballot by then. Otherwise, he is shooting for the May primary races.

He wants to put a liquor store on Battlefield Parkway, next to the next location of the Farm to Fork restaurant.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.