Forge attorney: State controls liquor hours

Liquor sales can continue until 3 a.m.
Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:24 AM

City attorney Jim Gass advised the City Commission on Wednesday that liquor sales hours are governed by the state, not cities.

That means licensed Pigeon Forge restaurants can sell liquor by the drink until 3 a.m.

On Nov. 26, amid controversy over the referendum, city commissioners passed on first reading an ordinance affirming that state law governs liquor hours. At that meeting, Gass told commissioners that he wasn’t yet sure whether the city can end liquor sales earlier. Late last week, Gass told The Mountain Press he was still exploring options for the city.

“We hoped there could be room under the statute so that the commission could regulate hours,” he told a Wednesday work session, which was held at City Hall. “But it’s my opinion that you cannot.”

Mayor David Wear asked, with irony, “Do we have a choice whether we follow state law?”

Gass replied, “I don’t think we have any.”

In response to a question from Commissioner Randal Robinson, Gass said that restaurants selling beer but not liquor must still observe the city’s midnight cutoff. If the commission wants to implement a uniform 3 a.m. cutoff, it can, Gass said.

Because of alleged voting irregularities, the organization Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge is contesting the result of the Nov. 6 referendum. The Sevier County Election Commission, through its attorney, claims the organization lacks standing to contest the result.

The work session also heard a report from Sam Harrison of the Knoxville engineering firm Smith Seckman Reid Inc., about the city’s proposed wastewater treatment plant. He described changes that reduced the firm’s earlier $54 million proposal to $30.15 million. Changes include a smaller building and less expensive equipment. The changes will increase operating costs.

Harrison estimated that construction would begin in June and would last two years.

The session also heard from Jimmy H. Taylor of Associated Design Group, Inc., about options for grading the site of the proposed Cal Ripken Experience baseball complex.