Elizabethton planners approve plans for Twins club house, code changes for pub bars

John Thompson • Sep 6, 2018 at 11:41 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton Twins had a very good 24 hours.

On Wednesday the team won another Appalachian League championship, its 12th. Less than a day later, plans for a proposed new club house were unanimously approved by the Elizabethton Planning Commission.

Elizabethton Twins General Manager Mike Mains said there is still a lot of work to be done before this “win” is recorded. He said biggest remaining step is for the Minnesota Twins and Elizabethton City Council to come to an agreement on the funding arrangements for the new building, which would be behind the right field wall, near the area where the scoreboard is located.

“It has been a long process,” said Mains, referring to the effort to get the plans completed and approved by all parties before they could be presented to the Planning Commission.

Mains said the new clubhouse is necessary to bring the field up to Minor League Baseball standards. While the facility will be used by the Elizabethton Twins during the two and a half months when the team is in town for the season, the rest of the time, he said the facility will be used by the Elizabethton High School baseball team.

The plans were drawn by Populous Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, one of the world leaders in designing stadiums and arenas. The company was brought in at the request of the Minnesota Twins.

In other matters, the Planning Commission approved a proposed code change for pub bars in Elizabethton and gave approval for the Elizabethton Historic Zoning Commission to become a certified local government.

The proposed changes for pub bars would be made in Title 8 of the city code. The idea is to encourage businesses which specialize in sales of craft beers. The code changes require that all alcoholic sales would be for beverages that have been fermented, allowing for beers, ales, meads, ciders, and wines. The pubs would be permitted at neighborhood business districts and the central business district.

The planners discussed the impact such establishments might have on downtown. Commissioner Vickie Manuel said some of the property owners of downtown businesses might not like to have such pubs next door to their building. Others felt the pubs would attract crowds more interested in paying $6 for a craft beer than in drinking to excess.

Commissioner Wes Frazier said he had just come from the Bonnie Kate Vision Meeting, where he had heard Mayor Curt Alexander talk about the need to develop downtown into a thriving evening destination. He citied the example of Bristol, where people can enjoy a downtown evening of food, beverage and entertainment.

Manuel said the type of evening attractions that are successful in Johnson City and Asheville worked because both cities had large populations of young college students.

Commissioner Ron Kirby asked “Do we want to stay the same as we have been for the last 40 or 50 years?”

The code change was approved by a vote of 5-1, with Manuel passing and Commissioner Dena Bass absent. The matter will go before the City Council next Thursday.

In the only other business, the commissioners approved a houscleaning measure that would make the Elizabethton Historic Zoning Commission a certified Local government, or CLG. Planning Director Jon Hartman said most planners across the state thought the body was already certified, but it was discovered recently that it was not. He said the designation would not have any changes in the organization, other than the designation.