Voting No on Liquor Referendums

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Alcoa, Blount County (WVLT) - For now it will be business as usual in most of the seven East Tennessee towns faced with decisions on liquor sales.

Voters in Lake City, Loudon, Lenoir City, Huntsville and Jellico all rejected moves to either allow liquor by the drink, package stores or both.

But as Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen Mclamb shows you, Alcoa voters said yes to a change while Townsend's decision came down to just a handful of votes.

Talk about a deciding issue...the liquor by the drink referendum in Townsend even split families down the middle.

"She voted against it and I was for it," says Terry Haley.

Terry and his wife own the Riverstone Restaurant, a business that could have benefited if the referendum passed.

But it failed...by 9 votes.

"We really, really have good food and we have trout and steak and wine would go really well with that," says Terry.

For Belinda, it would have changed a community.

"I don't want to see Townsend turning into Gatlinburg. I'd rather it stay family oriented," says Belinda Haley.

Meanwhile, just 15 miles up the road, Alcoa residents strongly approved liquor stores, by nearly four hundred votes.

The same day neighboring Maryville approved it's fourth liquor store, the one stipulation, it has to be placed close to the Alcoa city line.

Setting off a possible fight for your business, and your money.

"There is a feeling with the success of the original three stores that there's a need or demand in the community for a fourth one," says Roger Campbell, Maryville Assistant City Manager.

"I'm sure they're trying to be strategic to protect their revenue sources too and there's nothing wrong with that but I think there will be enough growth to be absorbed just like the Alcoa stores will be into an increased population," says Bill Hammon, Alcoa City Manger.

Back in Townsend, no liquor in restaurants, yet, but the issue hasn't dried up.

"Do yall think it will come back up again in two years?" asks McLamb.

"Probably," says Terry.

"Probably. Of course, we could have different opinions at that time too," says Belinda.

Maryville Assistant City Manager Roger Campbell says he expects the council to approve a store owner in January or February.

Alcoa Assistant City Manager Bill Hammon says he expects their city commission to begin the approval process when they meet on Tuesday.


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