Community Speaks Out On Beer Sales

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Hamblen County (WVLT) You can't buy liquor in Morristown.

But it'll be a lot easier to find a glass, can, or bottle of beer.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd has more on the vote to ease the rules, after we first brought you word of the changes last night.

Beyond the questions of what's moral, what's safe, and what's best for business.

The debate tonight, as it was last night is : what is the will of the people.

Which is why this battle, may not be over.

Frank Cosentino doesn't need beer to bring in the lunch and dinner crowds at Smoky's Steak and Barbecue, but he says, "our competitors on each side of us both have the beer license, and so we have thought that it's been unfair for us not to get a beer license."

Til last night, Smoky's was 270 feet too close to the New Directions Church.

Cosentino says, "I don't think distance should play a role in this thing."

Morristown's City leaders have sided with Frank.

Restaurants are now eligible for beer permits no matter how close the school, church, or park.

A carryout must be 150 feet away, less than a third the distance before.

Figuratively speaking, the taps have already opened.

Already, there's a request to sell beer by carryout from the Food City on Cumberland.

Pastor Todd Stinnett, with Grace Baptist Church says, "on this issue, we are just not convinced that the desires of the people were honored."

Pastor Stinnett bases that on the standing room only crowd who showed up for last night's council vote.

"We really wish this could have been determined by referendum."

At first glance, Tennessee law appears to give voters that option for regulating liquor.

But not beer, leaving the power to permit, revoke or change the rules, strictly up to city councils, county commissions, or a specific board or committee.

Still, Pastor Stinnett wants it clarified.

"If it were legally possible for this issue to be determined by the voters of Morristown, I believe that's exactly what should have happened."

He says he can live with voters verdict, but he'll continue to oppose alcohol on safety and moral grounds.

But Cosentino owner says folks have nothing to fear when Smokies starts serving beer.

"It's gonna be left up to us to police the situation, card ID, and make sure people don't go out of here drunk."

Pastor Stinnett has stopped short of saying he'd hire a lawyer, or sue to determine whether voters can put beer regs to a referendum.

But folks do have one option remaining: if they don't like the rules city leaders made, elect new people to make different rules.

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