Being too close to a church may soon bring about a change of ownership at Short Mountain Market.
The owners of the market recently went before the Cannon County Beer Board to request a change in the county’s rule which establishes a distance requirement between where businesses can sell beer, and schools and churches.
If the market is granted a variance, it can apply for a license to sell beer.
However, the Short Mountain Church of God is opposed to the store selling beer and doesn’t want the Beer Board to lower the distance requirement so the store can do so. The church is located just south of the market on State Route 146, or Short Mountain Rd.
The distance between the church and the market is approximate 0.2 miles. 2000 feet is 0.38 miles. The market is about 1,056 feet from the church.
Ralph Harvey, co-owner of Short Mountain Market, said he will likely have to sell the business if he is not able to 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.”
Harvey said he is not trying to harm the church, only make a living.
“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 WarrenCounty.”
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 two thousand feet (2,000') of such places of public gatherings in its discretion.”
The congregation of Short Mountain Church of God wants that requirement to continue to stay as it is.
“It is tough economic times. We realize that,” Pastor Charles Stanton said. “We have no ill will toward the market. We want them to survive.
“We are here to encourage the beer board to uphold the law. We think it is for the betterment of our community if this request is rejected.”
Beer board member and county commissioner Jim Bush was the only member able to attend the recent meeting, therefore no vote was taken. Another meeting will be scheduled in the near future.
Bush said he was opposed to lowering the distance allowed between an establishment selling beer and a church or school.
“If we start cutting the state mandated 2,000 feet it is going to be a slippery slope,” Bush said.
Greg Mitchell, pastor of Center Hil lBaptist Churchand a former county commissioner, agreed.
“Where does it stop? Once we start deviating (from the state distance) it will never end. What are we going to give up for a dollar?”