A resolution to limit the number of liquor stores in Lebanon fell flat at the City Council meeting again Tuesday, coming up one vote short of approval.
During a meeting last month in which a measure to limit the stores failed, Councilor Camille Burdine, the most vocal proponent of the resolution, said she would not let it go without a fight, calling it a matter impacting the quality of life in the city. On Tuesday, she said, “I am very much still on this bandwagon.”
When it was voted on previously, it only received three approving votes from Burdine, Councilor Chris Crowell and Councilor Tick Bryan. Councilors Joey Carmack and Fred Burton both voted no, while Councilor Jeni Lind Brinkman abstained from voting.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Brinkman was absent. In a phone call Wednesday, she said she had an unavoidable family commitment that prevented her from being there. She said she would have voted, but declined to say how.
During the portion of the meeting where residents are allowed to comment on agenda items, Brooke Porter Hawkins, the proprietor of Market Basket Wine and Liquors, located at 1505 W. Main St, expressed support for the resolution that would prevent more liquor stores from opening.
She is a third generation owner of the store her grandfather started when there were only two liquor stores in Lebanon, she said.
Pointing to the federal state and local laws regulating the sale of spirits and wine, she said, “There really isn’t a more heavily regulated or taxed industry.”
Burton said Wednesday the tax revenue that liquor sales provide for the city is one of the reasons he voted no on the resolution.
Burton also said, “These (liquor stores) are small businesses, and we want to do what we can to promote small businesses here.”
In Burton’s eyes, if a person doesn’t want to go into a liquor store, they don’t have to, just like any other place of business.
“We are not the same as a lot of businesses,” Hawkins said while discussing the high taxes owners of these stores pay. “While I may not enjoy all the oversight, I accept it because of the nature of what we sell,” she added.
Hawkins brought up several surrounding communities including Mt. Juliet, Gallatin, Smithville and Franklin for their laws limiting the number of liquor stores on a per capita basis. “They understand reasonable limitations are required.”
“None of the cities I have mentioned have more than one liquor store per 5,400 residents,” she said before citing Lebanon’s significantly lower threshold, which equates to about one store per 2,500 residents.
City Attorney Andy Wright said the number of liquor stores in Lebanon currently stands at 12, with three more stores’ certifications having been approved, but not having opened yet.