BY SARAH GREGORY
The Town of Greeneville will not consider the possibility of allowing beer and wine to be sold at special events in the downtown area -- at least, not for the time being.
During Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Mayor W.T. Daniels used the "Mayor's Comments" portion of the agenda to address the audience.
Daniels apparently knew that many in the audience were attending in regard to the issue -- which had been discussed at the last meeting of the board -- even though consideration and discussion concerning the topic were not on Tuesday's agenda.
The mayor said the item was "off the table," adding, "we're not going to consider this."
Some members of the audience grew audibly upset when Daniels announced that the item and public comments concerning the topic were not on the agenda.
PROCESS FOR COMMENTS
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has a set process for citizens who would like to be added to the agenda to formally address the board.
Individuals wishing to address the board may contact Town Hall to be added to the agenda.
Citizens are recognized and given the floor for three minutes to speak at a podium with a microphone.
DIVIDING THE COMMUNITY
"We're not going to use this particular item to divide this community," Daniels said.
In response to a question from the audience about the June 8 event for which alcohol consumption had been proposed, Daniels said, "I am 100 percent -- I am telling you, this will not be an issue on June 8."
"The event will happen," he said, "but there will be no alcohol."
CONFUSION OVER ISSUE
Some members of the audience were apparently misinformed about prior action by the Town and were under the impression that a vote on the topic had already been taken.
At the last meeting, aldermen passed a resolution that would simply allow City Administrator Todd Smith and Town Attorney Ron Woods to draft an ordinance for consideration by the board.
The vote to allow the ordinance to be drafted would not have granted the right to sell alcohol at public events in the downtown area.
It would have simply allowed proposed guidelines for such a measure to be drafted and given the board an ordinance to consider.
The issue came up as an aside to a proposal for the June 8 event in the downtown area, and aldermen did not have an ordinance on the subject to discuss.
Aldermen Sarah E.T. Webster and Buddy Hawk voted to allow an ordinance to be drafted for consideration.
Aldermen Darrell Bryan and Keith Paxton voted against the possibility of even drafting an ordinance for consideration.
Daniels cast the tie-breaking vote to allow the ordinance to be drafted and considered.
"When people bring ideas and discussion to the board," Daniels said, "we listen."
Smith said that Town Hall had received more calls about this topic than any other in the year-and-a-half since he began working as city administrator.
However, he said, the calls were not completely against the sale of beer and wine at special events for the benefit of civic organizations.
"Some were for, some were against," he said.
However, after it became apparent to Smith that drafting the ordinance would be a very time-consuming process and would likely not be ready for Tuesday's agenda, the decision was made to table the matter indefinitely.
There are no current plans even to draft a proposed ordinance that could permit and control the sale of alcoholic beverages at special events in the downtown area.
Although the issue may arise again at some point in the future, for now, alcohol will not be served in the streets of Greeneville for special events.