The Cannon County Beer Board denied a beer permit request from Short Mountain Market due to its proximity to a nearby church during its regular meeting Tuesday.
Short Mountain Market's variance request was denied because it is located within 1,300 feet of Short Mountain Church of God. No beer sales are allowed within 2,000 feet of schools or churches in Cannon County. The law has been in place for more than 50 years.
Ralph Harvey, co-owner of Short Mountain Market, lobbied for a waiver due to the fact that church is only in session Sundays and Wednesdays. Since beer sales are not allowed in Cannon County on Sundays then Wednesday night was the only conflict, Harvey contended.
The church is located just south of the market on State Route 146, or Short Mountain Road. Harvey said he will likely have to sell the business because he can not obtain a beer license.
"Since DeKalb County changed their footage (requirement) my sales for gas, cigarettes and groceries have gone down," Harvey said. "I am losing money because there are stores just down the road selling everything I have but they also can sell beer."
Charles Stanton, a local pastor in the Short Mountain community, addressed the beer board and shared statistical data about the hazards of excessive drinking.
Members of the Beer Board, after hearing both sides of the discussion, upheld the 2,000 feet ruling and denied the request of Short Mountain Market. Board members said such exemptions would lead to future requests, citing East Side Market had been sold earlier in the day and this ruling could open the door for future East Side Market tenants to lobby for such relief despite being within 2,000 feet of East Side School.
"Our tax money is going out of our community but it (the distance requirement) is not stopping people from buying beer," Harvey said. "They can go to Woodbury, DeKalb County or Warren County."
According to state law, "No beer will be sold except at places where such sale will not cause congestion of traffic or interference with schools, churches, or other places of public gathering, or otherwise interfere with public health, safety and morals, the county legislative body having the right to forbid such storage, sale or manufacture at places within 2,000 feet of such places of public gatherings in its discretion."