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Talks begin regarding liquor store regulations

Details regarding the recently passed referendum legalizing liquor stores in the town of Unicoi were discussed at a planning commission meeting on Friday, Dec. 7.
The planning commission met to refine language for an ordinance, which will have to be presented to the town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Alderman for approval.
Many of the details to be included in the ordinance are regulated by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Glenn Rosenoff of the First Tennessee Development District said; however, the planning commission can make detailed recommendations to the town’s board.
Planning Commission Chairman Ken Kisel explained all of the details the planning commission could suggest to the town Board.
“Basically we need to make two sets of decisions, the one set has to do with number and locations, which goes all the way down to looking into the site plan,” Kisel said.
“The other [set] is the whole question of ‘what is the process for the application?’ We’ve been asked that the planning commission itself be included in the evaluation process,” he continued. “As I understand it, we will be the primary bidding organization although the final vote still has to come from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.”
Although no voting took place, the planning commission suggested two stores be allowed with three possible locations within the town.
“Common sense kind of dictates that you go to the exits,” town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said. “That’s where the available properties are located mostly.”
Proposed locations include select zones along Interstate 26 at exits 32 and 34 while also including an intermediate business zone at the far north end of the town near Wiseman’s Clothing and Shoes.
The planning commission also suggested pricing for application fees, inspection fees as well as the store’s distance from churches, schools and other places of public gathering.
A site plan was considered by the planning commission as well. Rosenoff said the site plan could include information on the details of the building design and measurement.
Rosenoff suggested a licensed surveyor be involved in all measurement inspections.
Another factor the planning commission considered was how to process applications once the ordinance is in effect. The application process was suggested to request all materials the state requires, with an added suggestion to submit a business plan to the planning commission.
“These are the factors that probably take more of the thought process because the state doesn’t determine them for you,” Rosenoff said.
Kisel said the result of their efforts should allow for the businesses to become successful, not limit them.
“In doing this, what we want ideally, is to be able to create a situation where we go through this once early on and we wind up with one or two, or whatever we decide, of very successful package stores … that’s pretty much the way it ought to go,” Kisel said.
Lynch said the ordinance could reach a second reading by the board’s January regularly scheduled meeting.

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
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