The Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an ordinance that would cap the number of businesses that can sell alcohol for off-premise use on its second reading on Monday.
The ordinance sets the limit on off-premise alcohol licenses at two businesses per 1,000 citizens — or a total of 12.
There are currently 16 businesses that hold an off-premise license in the town. Those existing businesses would be grandfathered in and will be able to continue to operate as normal.
Several citizens spoke at the meeting about how the ordinance would affect them.
“There are indirect negative consequences for all businesses when their governing body produces more regulations and restrictions, which, in turn, produces limitations on businesses to thrive,” Erwin citizen Jen Fury said.
Alderman Michael Baker echoed his remarks at the previous BMA meeting, saying that a cap of 12 was too low.
“Concerning the top two sales tax generators in the city of Erwin, both of these have off-premise permits,” Baker said. “They generate $151,000 for Unicoi County, which equates to $75,000 over three months to the city. The issue with this ordinance and why I would like to see it at 3 or 4 per 1,000 is, hypothetically, if Food City and Food Lion, the top two, were to merge, and it took them seven months to do so, we would lose $300,000 per year to the town of Erwin and $300,000 to the Unicoi County school system.”
Mayor Glenn White said he felt the cap would not hinder growth in town.
“I am not against growth, but our market concerning off-site convenience stores that sell beer is saturated,” White said.
The motion to approve the cap was made by Alderman Mickey Hatcher and seconded by Alderwoman Angie Wilcox Vaughn. The ordinance was approved 5-1, with Baker voting no.
Also during the meeting, the board voted to have a work session on a proposed ordinance that would repeal Appendix Q of the International Residential Code, which contains regulations on tiny homes, as well as an ordinance that would prohibit campgrounds in the city.
Tiny homes are houses that are under 400 square feet and on average cost around $60,000 to build.
“I really see tiny houses as beneficial,” said Erwin citizen Sharee Percival. “You can’t rent or own a home for $500 a month.”
The town of Erwin currently has none of its own regulations on tiny homes, but if aldermen choose to repeal Appendix Q of the IRC, tiny homes will not be allowed within town limits.
Alderwoman Paula Edwards made the motion to have a work session to discuss the two proposed restrictions further. The motion to hold the work session was seconded by Baker and approved unanimously.
The next Erwin BMA meeting will be held on March 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.