Voters in the town of Alamo will notice an additional option on their official election ballot this year.
Alamo voters will notice an option to vote to permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the Town of Alamo or not to permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the Town of Alamo.
In Tennessee, the right to hold a referendum election does not exist unless expressly granted by the state legislature. Four sources of legal authority for holding a referendum in Tennessee are The Tennessee Constitution, The Tennessee Code Annotated, County Charters and Municipal Charters.
The “Retail Package Store Referendum” that is being voted for was called by local citizen petition.
Per the states Liquor Referendum T.C.A codes 57-3-101, 57-4-101 and 57-3-801 in 2014 Public Chapter number 554, a retail package store and wine at retail food store liquor referendum may only be called by petition of registered voters.
For retail package stores, a petition must be signed by 10 percent or more of the registered voters casting a ballot for governor in the last election in the city.
The Alamo mayor and board of alderman encouraged the petition process in a July motion but the Mayor and Board of Alderman simply cannot put something such as this on a ballot. There must be a petition process by the citizens and all codes and policies issued by the state must be met for a petition to reach the ballot during an election.
“It’s a good thing for the citizens to decide this,” said Mayor John Avery Emison.
The Crockett County Election Commission determined the qualifications of the state were met by the petition with a minimum of 10 percent of registered voters from the governors’ election in Alamo.
It is important to note that while the county and city governments currently issue beer license’s, the referendum being voted on specifically pertains to wine and spirits. Only the Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission may issue licensure for the sell of wine and spirits.
If the Liquor Referendum does pass in the election, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen will then approach any changes that need to by made based off of advice from the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS).
Ordinance adoption procedure and zoning for businesses that would sell liquor will need to be addressed.
Mayor Emison advises, “If the referendum passes, it would likely take a minimum of three months or so to do everything locally that needs to be done before a business could proceed.”
Aside from local ordinances and zoning, any business opening would also have to go through the TABC licensing process before a store would be able to open in Alamo.