ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — Residents packed the meeting chamber at Erwin City Hall on Thursday night to voice their opinions on a proposed restriction on the sale of alcohol in the town.
At a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session, Mayor Glenn White brought forward a proposal to limit the number of permits for off-premise alcohol sales to 12 and outright ban the sale of alcohol within 400 feet of churches and schools.
Fifteen Erwin businesses are currently permitted, meaning any new convenience stores or grocery chains wanting to come to Erwin would not be able to sell alcohol.
“I feel professionally and personally, 15 is enough,” White told News Channel 11.
But, many others disagree, including town alderman and business owner Michael Baker.
“That doesn’t allow us for any growth,” Baker said. “Once somebody loses a license, we’re going to be losing that (sales tax) revenue, and, currently, there is no plan to make up that revenue.”
Baker said he is not opposed to a limit on the total number of licenses available, but 12 is too few.
Matt Moses, owner of USA Raft Adventure in Erwin, said making the change would likely discourage businesses from coming to town.
“Everybody now is going to be concerned about, ‘am I going to be able to sell that glass of wine or that beer with a with a meal?’ or ‘am I going to be able to sell beer with fuel?'” Moses said.
White said he hopes the town can attract more than just businesses that sell alcohol. But Moses, who has a restaurant outside the town that sells beer, said every little bit of revenue counts when trying to keep a business afloat.
“Every business needs all those add-ons,” Moses said. “It’s a lot of small streams that make those money rivers.”
White said he plans to bring the proposal forward to a vote at the next BMA meeting on Feb. 13.