Changes Coming At The Chattanooga Beer Board

  • Thursday, January 4, 2024
  • Gail Perry

The Chattanooga beer code was created in 1986 and reflects attitudes about beer from that time, said Chris Anderson, senior advisor to Mayor Tim Kelley. He told the Chattanooga Beer Board members on Thursday that, after working on the city’s laws controlling beer, that changes are coming which will bring the beer code up to date.

Currently the beer board has judicial capacity, but the members are not lawyers and the city has not prepared them for that responsibility regarding violations. The newly proposed code will professionalize the judicial process for violations by appointing new Administrative Hearing Officers.

The Chattanooga Police Department will do investigations, not the beer board. The Administrative Hearing Officers will conduct the initial hearings for a violation. The penalties they can issue will be higher and have more teeth than what can be given now. Five attorneys will be appointed on a part-time basis to function as AHOs. If those decisions are appealed, they will be sent to the beer board. The final line of appeal will still be the Chancery Court.

All permits will start with the Chattanooga Police Department and beer licenses will be issued by the CPD, but if any red flags appear with an application, it will be forwarded to the beer board.

The distance requirements from a church or school will be changed. The current distance of 500 feet for a business selling consumer beer will be reduced to 300 feet, and the 250-foot distance from a business selling off-premise beer will be reduced to 200 feet. Mr. Anderson said the laws now in effect were created when people lived farther apart, but now people live closer together. Also, many strip centers that formerly housed businesses which have closed have had day-care centers move in.

He said the current distance requirement hinders economic development.

An antiquated requirement, he said, is that the current code requires any disturbance in a business selling beer, to be reported from a land line telephone. The newly proposed law will require disorders to be reported o a phone in good working order. He said that the city wants all calls right when the disorder is taking place without having to find a land line to use.

Currently the wrecker board is made up of members of the beer board. The proposed changes will include that wrecker applications and violations be handled by the Passenger Vehicles for Hire Board which already deals with transportation, said Mr. Anderson.

The proposed changes will have to be approved by the Chattanooga City Council, which is expected to vote on them no later than the end of February, when they will be on the meeting agenda. The changes are also expected to reduce the case load of the beer board, and may mean that this board only needs to meet once a month rather than twice.

Mr. Anderson said that one goal of the changes is to make it easier for people who are tying to open a business.

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