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Beer ordinance goes up for final vote Monday

If the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approve the final reading of a beer ordinance at its meeting next week, customers will be allowed to sample draft craft beer before purchasing from a convenience store or market.
Town Attorney Jim Wheeler said the ordinance has to be passed twice before it becomes a new ordinance. The first reading was approved with a 3-1 vote at the Monday, Feb. 9, meeting, with Alderman Adam Dickson opposing.
The BMA must pass the second reading, which includes a public hearing, on Monday, March 9, at 7 p.m. in order for the ordinance to go into effect.
The beer ordinance will allow anyone selling draft craft beers the opportunity to obtain a permit for sampling.
The ordinance requires a $100 nonrefundable application fee for the off-premise retail sale beer permit, as well as an annual privilege tax of $100 to renew the permit.
According to the ordinance, the samples can be no more than two ounces in no more than a five-ounce cup. Only three two ounce samples can be provided during a 24-hour period from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The ordinance also states that every customer will have to provide a photo ID to ensure they are 21 years old. The customer’s name, according to the ID, will then be entered into a sampling log that will show the day and time the sample was provided to that person.
All samples are to be consumed on premise and the server providing the samples must have an Alcoholic Beverage Commission server’s license.
The ordinance also states that the Jonesborough Police Department will review the sampling procedure before the convenient store or market begins offering samples.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said the ordinance simply creates a permit process if it is approved by the board. An application would have to be filled out for the permit, which would then go before the beer board for approval.
Browning said the reality of alcoholic beverage consumption is that it’s not a matter of if people drink, but whether it’s done responsibly.
Browning also added that he does not see the presence of children in a convenience store as a problem, adding that kids often go to restaurants and eat where alcoholic beverages are served.
“The issue is whether or not tasting can be done in a controlled and responsible manner, and I think that is the approach we are taking with it,” Browning said. “This is three small samples that are very well controlled.”
He said he believes from a staff standpoint and conversations with the police department that they have put together a situation where sampling can occur and be done responsibly.
Dickson said his vote against the ordinance is not one of judgment.
“I am very well aware that adults have every right to make decisions regarding their own welfare, and I am very conscious of that,” he said.
“I caste a vote to rezone that led to the distillery, understanding people have rights and liberties. We have a distillery in town, a brewery in town and two liquor stores in town. I am completely aware of people having an individual right to make decisions for their own actions.”
Dickson’s concern with the ordinance is whether Roadrunner Market is the best location because of its high traffic location.
“A lot of children are at this particular location,” Dickson said.
He said he has the utmost confidence in the town’s Public Safety Department and town administrators, as well as Mountain Empire Oil Co. enforcing the rules and abiding by the guidelines.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this vote is not of condemnation. It’s just a personal feeling that that specific location is not the healthiest location,” Dickson said.
A Jonesborough resident agrees that a convenience store is not the best location to have draft craft beer samplings.
Tammy Cloyd said she is not in favor of the ordinance for several reasons. She said she does not feel a convenience store is a suitable location for any type of alcoholic beverage sampling because of the children coming in and out.
“I don’t feel like they should be exposed to that,” she said.
Cloyd said individuals have many opportunities in the Town of Jonesborough to taste samples if they are of age.
“If people want to do that, that is their own business,” she said of drinking alcohol. “I do think there is a right and wrong place for people to do that.”
Cloyd said she also has some concerns about the legal aspect of having beer samples at a convenience store.
“If someone comes into the store and has had something else to drink and has three samples and puts them over the limit and something happens . . . is it going to set up our town for a legal suit because they are passing the ordinance,” she said.
At this time Roadrunner Markets does not have any comments concerning the ordinance.