Morristown Beer Ordinance Approved

Morristown (WVLT) - Now you can buy beer hundreds of feet closer to churches, schools, and public parks. The Morristown City Council approved the new ordinance Tuesday night. But some people feel this decision is going to leave a hangover effect on the community.

Coke won't be the only drink flowing from a tap at Smoky's Steak and Barbeque.

"I think it's going to help the business, quite a bit actually," Frank Cosentino says.

For the first time the Morristown restaurant soon could put beer on the tables.

A sale the church across the street had made impossible.

"We're 230 feet door to door..or corner building to building. That's how it goes," Cosentino says.

Too close for comfort...when it came to the 500 foot buffer zone beer-selling businesses had to have from churches, schools and public parks. Until now...

"We hope to serve a lot more food," Cosentino continues.

By a one vote difference...City Council's dropped the distance to 150 feet.

Except for restaurants they sell beer with no buffer at all.

That brings alcohol at least 350 feet closer to God's house.

How much is that? Well, just to give you an idea it's about the size of a football field.

"Would Jesus Christ be happy if you passed this re-zoning recommendation," Pastor Todd Stinnett asks.

Pastor Stinnett and dozens of other pastors say no.

"I wish there was no alcohol at all in this country," Pastor Stinnett continues.

Council says the change could bring more sales and property taxes to the city.

"The number of potential vendors will go up, but the number of potential buyers isn't going to go up," Pastor Stinnett says.

Just because Smoky Steak and Barbecue couldn't sell it before...didn't mean you couldn't bring your own long-neck bottles.

"It's called brown-bagging in East Tennessee," Cosentino says.

But now his bar can give customers the combo it never could.

"Beer with Barbeque. A lot of people like that," Cosentino says.

And he can't wait to put it on the table.

The council cited research showing distance requirements don't affect how much people drink. Pastor Todd Stinnett will continue to pray for council and to make Morristown a better place to live.

Businesses can apply for their new permits immediately, but liquor by the drink is still not allowed.

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