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Church Hill liquor ordinance barely passes on second try

March 20th, 2013 12:00 pm by Jeff Bobo

CHURCH HILL - In its second go-around Tuesday an ordinance that gives Church Hill the authority to make state recommendations in favor or against local liquor-by-the-drink permit applicants was approved by a single vote.

But, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen failed to act on a second proposed ordinance that would have aligned beer sales hours with state liquor by the drink (LBD) hours.

That means it will be legal to sell wine and cocktails on Sunday in Church Hill, but not beer.

Church Hill residents approved a referendum for LBD in the Nov. 6, 2012, election by a vote of 1,348-1,113.

City Attorney Chris Raines explained to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last month that there will be LBD in Church Hill regardless of what the BMA does, and that’s not the issue surrounding this ordinance.

The issue was whether or not Church Hill would choose to exercise any of its local authority regarding the issuance of LBD permits which is mostly regulated by the state.

For example, the ordinance authorizes Mayor Dennis Deal to submit a certificate of good moral character to the state before a LBD permit can be issued.

In essence, the mayor would give the state a recommendation for or against an LBD applicant before the state approves the permit.

The purpose of that authority is to give local officials some power to stop LBD sales near churches, school and other places of public gathering — factors which aren’t accounted for in state LBD regulations.

In January the BMA voted 5-2 in favor of the first of two required readings of its LBD regulating ordinance.

There were two aldermen who previously voted in favor of the ordinance absent from the February BMA meeting: Tom Kern and Mark Drinnon.

Aldermen James Grigsby and B.D. Cradic, who voted against the ordinance in January, also cast no votes in February on what would have been the second and final reading of the ordinance.

Ordinances require a majority of the full board, or a minimum of four votes, to be approved. In February the LBD ordinance failed by a vote of 3-2.

Grigsby and Cradic are open about their Christian beliefs and both stated their opposition to alcohol use after casting their votes last month.

On Tuesday the ordinance was presented to the Church Hill BMA again. This time all seven aldermen were in attendance and the ordinance was approved 4-2 with one abstention.

There was no discussion prior to Tuesday’s vote in which three aldermen changed their positions from previous votes.

Among those voting in favor were Deal and Linda miller, Buck Tipton and Grigsby, who had voted against in January and February.
Those opposed on Tuesday were Cradic and Mark Drinnon, who had voted in favor of the ordinance in January.

Tom Kern, who voted in favor of the ordinance in January, abstained.

The BMA will consider the second and final reading of the ordinance at its April 16 meeting.

A separate ordinance which calls for hours allowing the sale of beer to be identical with the state regulated hours for sale of LBD was also on the agenda but failed when no board members answered a call for a motion.

That ordinance had also failed on second reading in February by a 3-2 vote. That means a restaurant which receives a LBD permit in Church Hill will be able to sell wine and cocktails with meals on Sunday but won’t be able to sell beer with meals on Sunday.


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