Chattanooga Beer Board hears updates on security plans for Station Street, Blue Light

Board members admit to some frustration at the delays

Staff photo / Station Street is seen on Dec. 13, 2017. Officials are considering options to make the area safer.
Staff photo / Station Street is seen on Dec. 13, 2017. Officials are considering options to make the area safer.

Safety guidelines for Chattanooga nightlife and a security plan for a Station Street bar are not complete, an officer told the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board on Thursday.

The city is developing guidelines in response to safety concerns over Station Street, and the Blue Light is formulating a board-mandated security plan after alleged violations.

Police Sgt. Jason Wood told board members at Thursday's meeting that both plans were still in discussion, a point of contention for Chairwoman Monica Kinsey, who said the delays make it hard for the members to complete their task as a volunteer board overseeing beer permits and violations.

She said that until a plan is put in place, "it's moot for us to show up, whether it's a Station Street or Blue Light issue."

She also said not having a plan must make it hard for Wood to do his job.

The Chattanooga City Council is considering a plan that could require business owners along Station Street to contribute financially for security services on the short stretch of the street between Market Street and Rossville Avenue behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

The street is home to Westbound, Regan's Place, Boneyard, Tailgate Brewing Co., The Comedy Catch and Stir and is near other bars and restaurants on Main Street. It has become a popular attraction for foot and car traffic, as well as late-night patrons.

Over the past year and a half, there have been multiple early-morning shootings, fights and altercations reported in and around the Station Street bars.

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, has called the area crime-infested and has introduced a bill that would repeal a 2016 law that allows customers to carry alcohol onto the street.

The city's new safety measures are aimed at beefing up security on the roadway and restricting all vehicle traffic during the busiest hours.

The Blue Light opened in August 2021 inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex in a space once occupied by the live music venue Songbirds South and is now below the Songbirds Foundation space. It is across the street from Westbound, Regan's Place and Boneyard Bar.

In November 2021, the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board found the Blue Light in violation of six separate code violations that reportedly took place between September and Oct. 31 of the same year. At the time, the board voted to repeal the bar's beer license, which the Blue Light appealed, sending the case to Chancery Court, where it was heard by Judge Jeffrey Atherton in June.

The violations include a staff member being intoxicated while on duty, selling alcohol off premises, operating a disorderly place and failing to report a disorder to police.

As part of an agreement, which was signed Oct. 28 by Atherton, the club was required to pay $1,000 -- which Wood said at a prior meeting it did -- and to meet with Wood to come up with a security plan by Nov. 30.

Wood said on Thursday that Blue Light owner Brian Joyce sent him an email Dec. 8 stating that he would continue to follow his security plan already in place.

Board member Vince Butler said he is concerned that "here we are five months down the road and nothing has been done.

"I'd like to see a security plan in place before the probationary period ends. We need to get this done."

Ellis Smith, director of special projects for the city of Chattanooga, said in an emailed statement that public safety is the administration's highest priority, and the Chattanooga Police Department will continue to bring justice to anyone who uses violence to settle their disputes.

"We are aware that CPD has asked the ownership of the Blue Light to complete their security plan, per the court's order. The Blue Light must respond with an acceptable plan," Smith said.

"If the ownership of the Blue Light is unable to produce an acceptable security plan, the beer board may petition the court to intervene and enforce a security plan," Smith said. "Mayor (Tim) Kelly strongly supports the implementation of a robust security plan for Station Street that promotes the safety of patrons, officers, business owners and nearby residents, and both he and (Police) Chief (Celeste) Murphy are closely monitoring these developments."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

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