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Staff file photo by Erin O. Smith / Joe Winland, owner of Heaven and Ale Brewery, pours a glass of at Heaven and Ale Brewery in Chattanooga in a 2019 file photo. Red Bank hopes to attract more businesses by easing restrictions on businesses that serve beer.

Red Bank may attract more businesses that serve alcohol if an updated beer ordinance receives approval on the second of two required city commission votes.

Commissioners took the first vote, 4-1, on Monday night for the revised ordinance, which eliminates the requirement that establishments that serve alcohol maintain a 300-foot distance from churches and schools. It also sets hours that alcohol can be served: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The ordinance allows establishments to serve beer containing up to 10.1% alcohol by volume. It also allows the city to issue special permits to event vendors and caterers to serve alcohol at events held at city parks, which has not been allowed in the past.

A stipulation that required establishments to have separate restrooms for men and women to get a beer license was removed. The required number of restrooms is now based on occupancy levels, as is the case for all other businesses.

"The ordinances definitely needed to be updated, but there are a few things that I'm not OK with," said Commissioner Ruth Jeno, who voted not to pass the ordinance.

She said she would have liked for it to prohibit serving beer after midnight, although she prefers 1 a.m. to the 3 a.m. cutoff that commissioners considered previously.

Jeno said she also does not approve of the elimination of the distance requirement separating businesses serving beer from churches and schools.

"I believe this is one of those things that we need to address to get the type of places that I think a lot of the citizens would like to have here, such as the brunches and things that we don't have here because of our beer laws," said Commissioner Pete Phillips, adding that one of the reasons he ran for office was to update city ordinances he feels are antiquated and economically disadvantageous to the city.

The prohibition on businesses that serve alcohol within 300 feet of a church or school left little to no space in the city for such establishments, given the abundance of churches.

Other Chattanooga area municipalities such as Signal Mountain and East Ridge have updated their alcohol ordinances in recent years with similar goals of attracting businesses.

[READ MORE: Signal Mountain Town Council continues discussion on beer ordinance amendments]

Vice Mayor Stefanie Dalton said she has been advocating to update Red Bank's alcohol ordinances since she and Mayor Hollie Berry knocked on residents' doors together while running for the commission, and sit-down restaurants and brunch options were among the top requests they heard from residents of things they wanted to see in the city.

"I had those conversations with hundreds of citizens and heard overwhelming support for revising this and updating this," Dalton said of loosening restrictions in the city's alcohol ordinances, which could make the city more attractive to restaurants that serve alcohol. "Hopefully it will help to spur some economic development and also support our small businesses."

[READ MORE: New leadership hopes to take Red Bank in a different direction]

She said the owners of longtime Red Bank restaurant Typhoon of Tokyo would like to serve beer but have been prevented from doing so because the restaurant is located within 300 feet of two churches.

A handful of citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance, and about the same number spoke against it. The second vote is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Red Bank Community Center.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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