The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners deferred on a 4-0 vote Monday reducing the ratio of food to beer sales allowed in the city.
The current ratio, which applies to businesses with a on-premises beers sales permits, is that for every $1 in wholesale beer purchases there must be $5 in food sales.
The commission is looking to amend this law with a new ratio of $1 in beer purchases for $2.50 of food sales In addition, the revised ordinance eliminates the suspension and revocation of beer permits for businesses that violate the ratio by selling more beer than permitted.
Currently, when businesses do not meet the requirements, the city will suspend their beer permits for up to two months. A second violation of the ratio during a 12-month period results in revocation of a beer permit.
Once the holders have their permits revoked, they are prohibited from requesting a new one for over six months.
The city is also planning on ending the requirements for permit holders to provide information over a 12-month period when they receive complaints from residents who claim establishments are selling beer in violation of the ratio.
Ed Hagerty, former mayor of Mt. Juliet, spoke against the changes.
He said the 5:1 ratio was intended to encourage sit-down restaurants rather than beer joints at a previous commission meeting two weeks ago.
“Every single elected official in Mt. Juliet, as far back as 1982, has been supportive of that effort,” said Hagerty.
Hagerty noted there were reports on the interest of some of the city’s commission to revise these laws on alcoholic beverages for the benefit of one single enterprise.
While he commended this specific enterprise for its services and stability, he warned that if the law passes, it will open the door for many other enterprises to sell beer in Mt. Juliet.
The city should not legislate for a single enterprise, which also causes more concern for Hagerty and District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele, who also believes changes to the ratio will negatively affect this city.
Hagerty said the change would hurt efforts to improve certain areas in Mt. Juliet, including Lebanon Road, where he said certain businesses selling alcohol will most likely be located at if the law passes due to its low lease rates.
“I can’t imagine how your efforts in cleaning Lebanon Road would go should the unintended consequence of changing this ratio become a reality,” said Hagerty.
Milele feared changing the ratio would open the floodgate to bar-like establishments across the city of Mt. Juliet. She also thought it would allow beer to be served in all commercial and industrial zoning.
“If people want to go to bars, there are plenty of them in Davidson County. We don’t need them here. Mt. Juliet is a family community,” said Milele.