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Unicoi tables amendment to lift beer sales restriction

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 18, 2019 at 10:12 PM

UNICOI — The Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen wants to hear more from town residents before finalizing an ordinance to an amendment that would lift a required minimum-300-foot distance between establishments that sell beer and any school, church or day care.

Approved on first reading in February, the amendment was up for second and final reading Monday but was tabled until April following a discussion of reactions to last month’s vote.

Alderman Kathy Bullen proposed the delay, saying the response she has received was to vote no on the removal of the site-distance requirement.

“Personally I think this is a good economic development opportunity for us. But there are so many other things involved, I don’t think I’ve had enough opportunity in the past month to hear from the citizens.”

Mayor Johnny Lynch said he had heard from people on both sides of the issue, including a former owner of a now-closed gas station who said he could not stay in business without selling beer.

“People complain all the time that we don’t have gas in Unicoi. I see where you’re coming from. But there are two ways to look at it. It’s a tough nut to crack,” Lynch said.

Aldermen Wanda Radford and Jeff Linville, who voted against the amendment in February, both said they had been thanked for their votes.

Radford said, “A lot of people said they appreciated my voting no the first time. No one said anything against voting no.”

Linville said, “I wish there was a way to sell beer and still show respect for the church.”

Bullen asked for a public notice requesting Unicoi residents’ input. Town Recorder Michael Borders said he would publish the notice in local papers and on the town’s web page and social media sites.

Vice Mayor Doug Hopson made the motion to table the amendment until the board members had heard more. Linville seconded the motion. And the board voted unanimously to delay the second reading.

In other business, the board approved a $57,500 bid for construction of a farmer’s market and community pavilion at Mountain Harvest Kitchen.

The bid from Weatherguard Carports and Patio Covers was one of five bids received in response to the town’s request for proposals, one of three bids that did not exceed the town’s budget on the project and the lower of two bids for which incidental forms had not been submitted.

The board approved the bid on the condition Weatherguard submit the omitted form. The pavilion is being built with an $85,000 Tennessee Department of Health grant awarded to the kitchen last year to help improve individual health outcomes.

The board also approved an interlocal agreement with Unicoi County to allow MedicOne to provide ambulance service to the town for a new four-year contract period to begin in April.

Borders told the board the county’s current contract with MedicOne will expire next month. The county has negotiated a new contract with the company, and if the town did not enter the agreement, it will have to find its own provider. The board approved the agreement unanimously.

In his monthly report to the board, Borders said Unicoi County Road Superintendent Terry Haynes has begun work on a new parking area for the town’s popular Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail to the top of Buffalo Mountain.

The new gravel and asphalt lot will be located across Powder Hollow Road from a small and heavily used paved lot at the trailhead. Funds for its construction were allocated by the town more than two years ago.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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