Elizabethton City Council holds workshop on pub bars

John Thompson • Updated Dec 12, 2018 at 7:36 PM

ELIZABETHTON — After a two-hour workshop on Wednesday afternoon, the Elizabethton City Council appears ready to vote on the second reading on a change to city ordinances that would allow pub bars that sell craft beers from microbreweries for on-site consumption.

The measure has already been approved by the council on first reading, but the final reading was delayed until it could be studied in a workshop session. At the end of Wednesday’s session, the council appeared ready to vote on the second reading during its meeting this evening.

City Manager Daniel Estes, Planning Director Jon Hartman, Chief of Police Jason Shaw, City Attorney Roger Day and other city staffers attended Wednesday’s meeting and provided input. City Councilman Kim Birchfield was unable to attend because of illness.

The council went into detail on the definition of a pub bar and how it was different from other establishments that serve alcohol for on-premise consumption. It was decided that a pub bar should be restricted to having 80 percent of its beers come from microbreweries that produce less than 15,000 barrels per year. That would include Yee Haw Brewing Co. of Johnson City, but leave out such national craft beers as Sierra Nevada.

There was a discussion on whether to limit the number of pub bars. Present at the meeting was husband and wife Michael Howell and Cheri Tinney. Tinney said the competition will be limited by the restrictions of the supply. She said microbreweries will not be available to competing retailers.

Another consideration was how much of the pub bars’ stock should be made up of microbreweries and how much could be major beer manufacturers. The council agreed that requiring 80 percent of the pub bars stock to be microbrewery products seemed right. Tinney said her establishment would not have any large production brews.

There was a requirement that some foods be available. Tinney said the establishment that she and her husband would operate would only have quality products from within a 250-mile radius. The couple is already well-known in the community from their work in supervising the Downtown Elizabethton Farmers Market this past summer.

Tinney said the only thing that might be brewed on the site of their business might be a fermented, non-alcoholic tea.

New Councilman Richard Barker said he saw pub bars as having a positive impact on the downtown economy.

“The downtown is stagnant,” Barker said.He said many buildings are vacant.

Resident Julie Seward attended the meeting and said “alcohol is not the answer” to reviving the economy of the downtown business district. She warned of the dangers of addiction for young people who become addicted through drinking beer. “We want to keep the wholesomeness of our community,” Seward said.

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