The Johnson City Commission will hear a second reading tonight of an ordinance to allow off-premise license holders to start selling beer at 8 a.m. on Sundays.
Commissioners moved the ordinance forward Aug. 4 in a 3-1 vote. Commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin opposed the move. Mayor Jeff Banyas was absent.
“When you look at the fact that the extra hours would only bring an increase in revenues of about 4 percent, it doesn’t seem worth it,” Van Brocklin said Wednesday. “And I personally am just not in favor of selling beer that early in the morning.”
City officials have said that businesses located near Sullivan County and the Bristol Motor Speedway are losing dollars to nearby stores located just across the county line.
City Manager Pete Peterson, who explained that the request was generated by city staff, said when these stores lose revenues, the city loses out on tax revenues. When the off-premises license holders cannot start selling beer until noon, which is how the current city ordinance reads, it results in the loss of sales and revenues to Johnson City’s corporate citizens and its tax collections, Peterson said.
Jim Epps IV, Johnson City’s associate legal counsel, told commissioners that the speedway was part of the reason for the request but it was not the sole source of revenue loss.
“What we’re doing is creating a level playing field,” Epps said.
Commissioners also will hear a first reading of a request by Johnson City’s Horizon Development Services LLC to rezone about 1.7 acres at 1150 West State of Franklin Road from I-2 (Heavy Industrial) to B-3 (Supporting Central Business).
Horizon wants to construct a multi-story apartment complex that would provide student housing in close proximity to East Tennessee State University. The B-3 zoning would allow 60 dwelling units, or a maximum density of 35 units per acre. The property currently is owned by the State of Tennessee and ETSU.
“It is our intention to build ‘high-end’ apartments on this site that will conform to the city zoning ordinances,” Horizon’s Charles Johnson wrote to Planning Director Jim Donnelly earlier this month. “We want to be good neighbors to the surrounding property owners and to the city. We also want to develop a project that everyone can be proud of.”
Commissioners also will hear a second reading of an ordinance that would give about 3.5 acres of city-owned land on King Springs Road to Eastern Eight Community Development Corp. for development of an affordable single-family subdivision. The King Springs Village concept plan was approved by the city earlier this year.
Community Development Director Steve Baldwin said the concept plan subdivides the property into 15 lots with an access road that will allow the development of 15 single single-family houses that can be purchased by low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers.