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Beverage board approves license for new downtown business

By Richard Rourk

The Town of Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen tackled several items during their Monday, May 23 meeting, but before the start of the BMA meeting, the Town of Erwin Beverage Board met and voted to approve providing a potential business on N. Main Avenue with a beverage license. 

“This would be a new business,” said prospective owner Kevin Adkins as he addressed the board.

Adkins is the owner of Burnout BBQ Grill on Rock Creek Road, although that business is currently closed.

“We would have our (Burnout BBQ Grill) food truck outside and would have televisions with sports and would offer beer and live entertainment,” Adkins said. Our hope is to bring this new business to Erwin and hopefully reopen our location on Rock Creek as something else.”

Adkins said that his goal is to not only give locals a new eatery similar to what they’ve asked for in years prior but to curtail just a bit of this “retail leakage” to surrounding communities in an attempt to put more sales tax revenue back into the community.

Adkins would start  a new food and entertainment establishment in a building located at 1070 N. Main Avenue in Erwin. 

“This is something that would help revitalize downtown,” Adkins said. “I want to ask Alderman Michael Baker, as a realtor, this building is in terrible shape, I would say dilapidated, with your expertise would a business or a building that is a health and safety risk be more beneficial for neighbors’ property value?”

Baker responded and confirmed that an operating business would be more beneficial than a dilapidated building. 

“The property next door to this property is already zoned for business,” Baker said. “A dilapidated building does not favor well, over a functioning business. That’s how it would be assessed.”

Other citizens did voice their opposition to this proposed business. 

“We are all for good business coming in, but we do not  want this in our neighborhood,” said Shirleen Eden. 

The final vote to approve passed by a 4-0 vote with two votes abstaining. The motion to approve was made by Baker and seconded by Alderman Gary Chandler. Joining Baker and Chandler with votes to approve were Town of Erwin Beverage Board Chairman and Town of Erwin Vice Mayor Mark Lafever and board member Paula Edwards. Mayor Glenn White and board member Mickey Hatcher abstained from voting. 

After the Town of Erwin Beverage Board meeting concluded, the BMA met in regular session and named an interim building inspector to replace former inspector Brian Tapp, who has left

employment with the town for another job opportunity. 

The BMA appointed Jeff Canon to the interim post.

“I take this opportunity to serve the community that I live in,” Canon said.

Canon also serves as a Chief Building Official for the City of Johnson City.

The BMA also recognized the work done by Town of Erwin Communications Director Jamie Rice in bringing opportunities for the citizens of Erwin. 

“I want to recognize one of our employees, Communications Director Jamie Rice,” said Mayor White. “Rice has been the organizer and liaison for numerous events throughout the county. I wanted to bring her to the spotlight of the BMA and recognize all the great things she does for the town.”

The BMA approved appointments to serve on the Board of Controls for the Unicoi County Foundation for Healthcare. BMA member Paula Edwards, current board president Roland Bailey and former Erwin Mayor Russell Brackins were appointed to serve on the foundation’s board.

In closing, the BMA gave an update on the most recent work session of the Joint Economic Development Board workshop as well as Erwin’s newest business. 

“The JEDB met last week for a work session for more than five hours and it was nice to see all three municipalities working to get together on a strategic plan for future development,” Baker said. 

“Earlier today (Town of Erwin Communications Director) Jamie Rice, (Town of Erwin City Recorder) Todd Wilcox and myself were able to attend the Blue Ridge Paddling ribbon cutting,” Baker added. “It’s good to see the old Bear Mountain Outfitters property occupied and opened for business.”

The Town of Erwin Planning Commission is scheduled to meet May 25 at 4 p.m. 

The Town of Erwin BMA is scheduled to hold work sessions on May 26-27 at 9 a.m. 

The next BMA meeting is scheduled for June 13 at 5:30 p.m.