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Proposal to Change Chattanooga Businesses’ Alcohol Sale Practices Based on Distance

Alcohol sale distance debate.


Proposal to Change Chattanooga Businesses’ Alcohol Sale Practices Based on Distance


Chattanooga, Tennessee— The City Council is considering a proposal that could change what local businesses can sell beer and liquor, based on distance measures. The initiative aims to establish new provisions regarding how far businesses have to be from places such as schools or daycares before they can apply for a license to sell alcohol.

Detailed Proposal

Last week, the city’s administration, under Mayor Tim Kelly, proposed updates that intend to simplify the process for business owners to obtain a license to sell alcoholic beverages. A further updated proposal suggests amendments to the beer board’s provisions, making key changes to the distance measures governing license issuance.

The new amendment seeks to disallow the sale of beer or other alcoholic beverages if a business is positioned “within 300 feet” of a church, daycare, or school. This amendment further restricts patrons from consuming purchased alcohol within 200 feet of the business premises.

Changes in Distance Measures

According to Chris Anderson, legislative advisor to the mayor, the proposed changes include a slight reduction in distance requirements currently stated in the city’s commercial zones. The existing code mandates that restaurants serving alcohol should remain 500 feet away from daycares, churches, or schools, while off-premises sales points or liquor stores should maintain a distance of 250 feet. The new proposal recommends revising these distances to 300 and 200 feet respectively.

Council Members’ Concerns

Several council members have raised concerns over the proposed changes. Raquetta Dotley recommended retaining the original distance requirement of 500 feet for restaurants and 250 feet for liquor stores. She expressed concern over the potential impacts on neighborhoods already struggling with issues related to alcohol sales.

Sharing similar sentiments, Councilwoman Carol Berz raised doubts on the new distance requirements, emphasizing the necessity of maintaining certain distances in some neighborhoods.

Amendment Guidelines

Considering the council members’ concerns, Anderson has drafted an amendment applicable only to certain zones, namely C-2, C-4, and C-5. This measure aims to protect areas like Brainerd Road and Hixson Pike, ensuring that commercial development in these corridors is not unduly restricted.

The Council members expressed willingness to undertake a first reading vote on the amended version of the proposal next week.

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