South Pitts­burg board’s ini­tial re­jec­tion of or­di­nance re­versed

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - REGION - BY RYAN LEWIS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

SOUTH PITTS­BURG, Tenn. — When or­ga­niz­ers with the Scenic City Sup­per Club in Chat­tanooga ap­proached city lead­ers about host­ing an event in South Pitts­burg, it be­came ap­par­ent some rules would have to change to do it.

At the South Pitts­burg City Com­mis­sion’s Oc­to­ber meet­ing, the board con­sid­ered Or­di­nance 793 on first read­ing, which would al­low of­fi­cials to des­ig­nate cer­tain pub­lic prop­er­ties, like the Princess The­atre, as tem­po­rary li­cen­sure lo­ca­tions for the sale or ser­vice of al­co­holic bev­er­ages.

The or­di­nance would ap­ply only to non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, and those groups would have to have prior board ap­proval and the proper state or city li­cens­ing ahead of time.

“It can­not be an in­di­vid­ual or a for-profit en­tity,” City At­tor­ney Billy Gouger said.

The Scenic City Sup­per Club was con­tacted by lo­cal man­u­fac­turer Lodge Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany about host­ing the event be­tween Sec­ond Street and Third Street in front of the Princess The­atre on Nov. 4.

A Sup­per Club rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the group puts on a “guest chef se­ries” to spot­light area chefs, farm­ers and pro­duc­ers, and those meals in­clude al­co­hol that may be paired with the food.

“It’s not a free-for-all, of course, but we have pro­vided al­co­hol at th­ese events in the past,” the rep­re­sen­ta­tive said.

She said there is “a great deal of ex­po­sure” through host­ing a Sup­per Club event, and me­dia cov­er­age from ma­jor out­lets such as South­ern Liv­ing al­ready have been con­firmed.

Only three of the five board mem­bers were present at the meet­ing, which caused some ini­tial con­fu­sion about whether or not the or­di­nance could be ap­proved.

The board voted 2-1 to ap­prove it, but Gouger be­lieved that with only three board mem­bers present, all three would have to vote for the or­di­nance for it to pro­ceed with a ma­jor­ity vote.

Mayor Vir­gil Holder cast the lone dis­sent­ing vote and said he thought the or­di­nance was “too much to change on such a short no­tice.”

Com­mis­sioner Jimmy Ha­ley pleaded with Holder to think about the pos­i­tive ex­po­sure the town could get through host­ing the event.

“I’m look­ing at the ex­po­sure and stuff, but I don’t think that you should go in and change your or­di­nances and rules be­cause some­body comes to you two days ahead of time or three days ahead of time and say, ‘We want it done,’” Holder told Ha­ley.

“This has needed to be changed,” Com­mis­sioner Sa­man­tha Rec­tor said. “We’re not talk­ing about hav­ing a soror­ity party. Th­ese are grown adults.”

Holder said “some thought” needs to be put into chang­ing the town’s ex­ist­ing rules, as well as get­ting feed­back from the com­mu­nity be­fore a change is made.

“Go back to Florida,” res­i­dent Carolyn Mill­hiser told Holder af­ter his state­ment.

Af­ter the meet­ing, how­ever, Gouger ex­am­ined the city char­ter and clar­i­fied his orig­i­nal po­si­tion that three votes were needed for a ma­jor­ity.

“Per Ar­ti­cle 2, Sec­tion 6 of the City’s Char­ter, when a quo­rum is present, an ac­tion passes if it is ap­proved by a ma­jor­ity vote of the mem­bers present,” he said in a mes­sage to city lead­ers. “Based on the two votes in fa­vor of the Or­di­nance out of the three Board mem­bers present, it is my opin­ion that the Or­di­nance ac­tu­ally passed on first read­ing.”

Rec­tor said the board would try to hold a spe­cial called meet­ing in the next week or two, so it could have a pub­lic hear­ing and a sec­ond and fi­nal vote on the mat­ter.

Ryan Lewis is based in Mar­ion County. Con­tact him at ryan­lewis34@ gmail.com

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