Commission rejects liquor proposal

Robinson calls for emergency action on liquor by the drink
Feb. 28, 2013 @ 12:21 AM

At Tuesday evening's city commission meeting, members voted down Commissioner Randal Robinson's motion calling for emergency action on liquor by the drink.

Robinson proposed that city attorney Jim Gass quickly draft zoning guidelines restricting limited-food-service liquor licenses. Under state law, liquor licenses can be obtained by businesses that earn as little as 15 percent of their revenue from food. Robinson also said distance restrictions should be placed on businesses that serve alcohol.

In his motion, Robinson said the commission should hold an emergency meeting to consider the guidelines.

"I think we need something in place before liquor by the drink passes," Robinson said.

On March 14, Pigeon Forge residents and property owners will vote on whether to legalize liquor by the drink.

"I don't think we need to panic," said Mayor David Wear, who supports city regulations on businesses that sell liquor. "We need to do this quickly, and we need to do it with our heads together, and we need to make sure we do it right."

"I would rather hurry and have something in place," said Robinson. "If we have nothing in place, I think the door is wide open to destroy this town."

"That's so doom and gloom," said Wear, smiling. "Thank you for that imagery."

Wear, Vice Mayor Kevin McClure and Commissioner Joyce Brackins voted against the motion. Robinson and Commissioner Howard Reagan voted for it.

Robinson made the motion near the end of the meeting, during Commissioners' Reports, when council members speak extemporaneously. During his report, Robinson also proposed that the city commit $225,000 for artificial turf at Pigeon Forge High School.

"They need to know whether to put the money in the budget," he said, referring to Sevier County School System officials.

Schools superintendent Jack Parton has asked communities including Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg to fund artificial turf at their high schools, Mayor David Wear noted in an interview after the meeting.

"I don't think anyone on the board will have a problem with this," said Wear at the meeting. However, he added, "I don't think a $225,000 expenditure is something we need to do without making sure [the amount] is going to cover it, or without at least having a work session with the county officials."

"I think it needs to wait for budget time," McClure said of the turf expense.

Robinson's turf motion did not pass. Wear, McClure and Brackins voted against it, Robinson and Reagan for it.

In other business, the commission approved:

- The publication of notice regarding delinquent taxes, penalties and interest for the year 2011

- A gate system at the new Wear Farm City Park

- A point of sale system at the park

- Pest control services for city facilities

- Concession stand supplies

- Parkway banners celebrating Smoky Mountain Candy Makers' 40th anniversary

- Reimbursing Barker Industries for cutting trees on the proposed baseball site

kburns@themountainpress.com