ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — After hours of contentious public comment, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 5-1 to limit the number of available off-site beer licenses.

Erwin Mayor Glenn White proposed limits on the sale of alcohol two weeks ago.

Tonight the board voted to move forward with limiting the number of permits for businesses like convenience and grocery stores to two permits for every 1,000 people. Erwin currently has a population of 6,000 which would set the current limit at 12 permits.

The town has granted 16 permits, but the four additional businesses will be grandfathered in by the new ordinance.

White said the limits are necessary to maintain the character of the town.

“If we’re going to continue to be the Valley Beautiful and the small quiet, peaceful town that we are, I feel that we have to have a limit on those type of stores,” White told News Channel 11. “I feel that for a town of 6,000, 16 is plenty.”

Alderman Michael Baker was the only Alderman to oppose the changes to the town’s current code. He said he’s not opposed to limits but that dipping below the current number of active permits would be “a step backward.”

He said he hopes his colleagues will consider a more generous limit when they meet later this month.

Tonight’s vote was a first reading, meaning that one more approval is required. The second vote is scheduled for Feb. 27.