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Yahya Alammari was first up Thursday morning during the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board's meeting via Zoom and everything seemed to be going smoothly, and his application for a permit to begin selling beer at Roger Quick Stop at 1408 E. Main St. was approved with little discussion. As he was about to sign off, however, he asked when he could begin selling beer because he had stopped selling it two months ago.

When asked where the beer was at the moment, Alammari got up with his phone and walked to the coolers to show the board how he had secured the doors to prevent people from getting the beer.

Board members quickly asked him to clarify and he said the beer was from the previous owner, "and I want to do things right so I stopped." That led to a lengthy question-and-answer discussion about where the beer had come from, how he was able to get it without a permit, where the previous owner's permit was currently and whether the entire matter was legal or if it in any way voided his just-approved permit.

After much discussion, Beer Board city attorney Melinda Foster said, "I don't think this affects this board today" and recommended that Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins and other city officials look into the matter if need be.

"Some matters need to be looked into," she said.

Acting Chairman Ron Smith said, "He is probably more legal today than he has been."

Board member Vince Butler suggested the board move on to other matters.

"I think we are spinning our wheels on something that should have been handled before this," he said.

Member Dwight Smith then wanted to clarify Alammari's original question regarding when he could begin selling beer and other members said he could not sell beer until the previous permit is surrendered. Foster pointed out during a later application that many permits from previous owners are often lost or misplaced when a place is sold and that actually surrendering the piece of paper is not required as long as it is voided in the city's records.

Dwight Smith later asked as a point of discussion whether an interpreter could be provided when one might be needed, as he said he didn't understand "half of what was said."

That topic came up again at the end of the meeting, and member Chris Keene said it is within the board's right to move to pass an application if a language barrier is an issue and that it is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure they can be understood.

Communication issues, this time between an applicant and the city, also dominated another case in which Diamound Brown is seeking a permit to sell beer at Chatty's Restaurant on Milne Street . The application was passed to the next meeting because she had not passed her building inspection.

She explained that she had done everything she was told to do and that the fire inspector, who had passed the fire inspection and certificate of occupancy applications told her she didn't need to get anything further. A phone call to the fire inspector's office during the meeting confirmed this and board members Keene and Smith asked if there was something the board could do to expedite her application such as holding a specially called meeting.

It was pointed out that Brown would have to advertise the meeting and pay for the advertisement and a court reporter and that there was no guarantee that the building inspector wouldn't find an issue that required more than a week, or even two to fix.

Zoning inspector Randy Ridge suggested that perhaps the fire inspector thought that because Brown had been open for some time, she didn't need another building inspection.

The board voted to move her application to Nov. 19.

During the same end-of-meeting discussion regarding an interpreter, Collins pointed out that when an applicant applies for a permit, he or she is handed a packet with a sheet of paper that says, "In big bold letters, 'You must do this'."

"We are like a machine because we've done this so long. We don't set your appointment, but we do make it a point to go over it and over it with you step by step."

Board member Brooke King said it was surprising "to hear someone accuse the fire department" of giving them bad information. Dwight Smith then pointed out that the department admitted they had and Collins added that he had just gotten off the phone with the fire department and that an email had just gone out admonishing inspectors to not tell applicants that don't need any other certifications.

"It is being addressed as we speak," Collins said.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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