5 of 8 cities pass alcohol votes

5 of 8 cities pass alcohol votes

November 3rd, 2010 by Adam Crisp in Politics Local

The five largest tri-state communities considering alcohol-by-the-drink referendums have voted to allow the sales.

Taps will flow and bottles soon will pop in Lookout Mountain, Collegedale, Dayton and in Spring City in Tennessee and Resaca, Ga. But the measures were defeated in Graysville, Tracy City and Pikeville in Tennessee.

In Collegedale, voters appear to have passed an alcohol-by-the-drink referendum. With 91 percent of the precincts reporting, voters had voted by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin to allow restaurants to serve alcohol.

With 10 of 11 precincts reporting, voters on Lookout Mountain favored serving alcohol 87 percent to 13 percent.

Cities that long had outlawed the sale of alcohol in restaurants considered lifting the ban as a means to provide more tax dollars and attract more dining choices.

Proponents claimed restaurants bring in tax revenue, provide jobs and improve quality of life, but that good restaurants locate only in cities that allow liquor, beer and wine sales.

"I'm happy for Collegedale," said David Barto, who campaigned for the ballot initiative. "Now we have the tools we need for the city to grow correctly."

In Resaca, voters also approved their referendum. With a 55 percent to 44 percent margin, the measure was approved by just a 13-vote margin.

Voters in Dayton approved the sales with a 59 percent to 41 percent margin. Spring City also approved the measure 51 percent to 49 percent. But in the same county, in Graysville, the measure failed 54 percent to 46 percent.

In Pikeville, voters narrowly rejected two ballot items to allow liquor stores and sales in restaurants. Voters rejected an on-site consumption referendum by 54 percent to 46 percent. A separate ballot item that would have allowed alcohol sales in stores failed 50.4 percent to 49.5 percent. Those vote totals are final.

Opponents said the sales violate the morality of small-town life and could prove to make roads less safe and contribute to alcoholism and other addictions.

"Sure, things are really tight, and taxes on gas and alcohol fuel our city, but to me it leads to addiction and a host of other problems that we battle every day," said Jim Whitaker, pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Pikeville, where the initiative failed.

Contact Adam Crisp at acrisp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6323. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/adam_crisp