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After approving four permits for special events and an application to sell beer for a new lounge/bar in the former Songbirds South location, the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board elected new officers.

Panel members also discussed the recent vote by the Chattanooga City Council to revoke the Special Exempt Permit for SkyZoo on Lee Highway, and heard a preliminary report regarding possible changes to the city's towing and wrecker code.

Elected for the coming year are Bill Glasscock as chairman of the nine-member board, Trevor Atchley as vice chair and Vince Butler as secretary/treasurer. They replace Dan Mayfield, Ron Smith and Atchley in the those positions, respectively. The positions are for one-year terms and the latter three will remain on the board.

Before the vote, board members discussed what role they might play in the SkyZoo issue. City attorney Melinda Foster and Beer Officer John Collins said the city council voted to revoke the permit of the club after repeated incidents involving the police in the last year, but that no specific beer violations had been issued in the past year that would have warranted it coming before the Beer Board.

The permit is given by the city to a club with a capacity over 100 that is in a residential area. It allows the venue to stay open past 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. SkyZoo must now stop serving beer and alcohol at 11 p.m. It can appeal, however, and Foster said she is meeting with Collins and other city officials to outline exactly what the revocation means and neither she nor Collins has dealt with a club that lost its exempt permit but stayed open.

The board also heard from Collins and Glasscock about a fact-finding meeting they had with several people to begin discussing how the guidelines governing the city's wrecker services could be improved. Collins pointed out that he was speaking only for himself and not the city and that the discussion was just that and very early in a process that could take weeks or months or more.

Glasscock, who joined the board in the last year, volunteered some weeks ago to spearhead a fact-finding mission regarding the wrecker guidelines and said he traveled earlier in the week to Knoxville to see how their city-owned recovery yard and process worked and he spent time with officials at TDOT.

He said that each person he spoke with emphasized the importance of safety for not only the public, but for first-responders and towing company employees. He said Knoxville has a city-owned yard that all vehicles are towed to. Collins added that the yard is staffed 24/7 and is a one-stop place where car owners can recover their vehicle, get reports and feel safe.

Glasscock noted that Chattanooga currently has 35 shops where cars can be towed to. He also said while the startup cost for such a yard would be high, the revenue generated would more than pay for it.

"Though revenue is not the reason to do this," he said. It's about safety and doing things better, he added.

Atchley pointed out that the issue could become a political hot button for residents and wrecker companies, who might see it as a money grab.

The board asked Glasscock to continue his research, and noted the importance of bringing the wrecker companies that are on the city's preferred call list into the conversation.

"Definitely," Glasscock said.

If the board were to come up with a list of recommendations for change, it would then have to submit those to the city council for ratification.

The board approved Special Events Permits for Drink and Discover, a fundraiser for the Creative Discovery Museum on July 31, a Notre Dame High School alumni party on July 23, a Patten Parkway Grand Opening event on July 23 and Soul Sunday in the Park at Miller Plaza and Miller Park on Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29.

The latter events will be family friendly featuring activities for kids, food and live music, according to presenter Shane Morrow of RISE Chattanooga.

An application to sell beer was also approved for The Blue Light, a new lounge owned and operated by radio show host Brian Joyce and Joseph Burns located in the former Songbirds South location on Station Street. The Blue Light will occupy the front 1,800-square-feet of the former live music venue.

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

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