Nona Martini of Plum Nelly Road Addresses Dist. 4 Commissioner Allan Bradford.
No mention was made at Thursday's Dade County Commission meeting of the liquor-by-the-drink questions left pending by the November referendum but, as happened at last month's meeting, a citizen stepped forward during the public participation part of the meeting to bring it up anyway.
Nona Martini of Plum Nelly Road stood up to champion the right of a new Scenic Highway restaurant, The Lookout Mountain Pizza Company, to serve beer and wine. She questioned the commission's intention as stated in a 2015 resolution to limit alcohol sales to areas near the interstate served by sewers, which would prevent any such sales at the new eatery, and for that matter anywhere on either Lookout or Sand Mountain.
"Would it help if we had a petition?" she asked.
She pointed out that, like many others, she and her husband now drive into Chattanooga to enjoy wine or beer with their dinner, and that a restaurant like the soon-to-open pizza restaurant would entice diners to spend their money in Dade--and not just diners from the neighborhood but from Cloudland Canyon State Park as well. "There's going to be a lot of people," she said. "That would be taxes for you."
Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley, as he has before, advised patience. "Bear with us," he said. "It's a groundbreaking thing, you know. It's not something that will happen in the next two or three days."
Dade voted 60-40 in the fall election to allow liquor by the drink. The referendum contained no reference to the commission's resolution or its restrictions. The restrictions have come into question now as the commission drafts guidelines as to issuance of liquor license.
Rumley said the county attorney, Robin Rogers, is working on an ordinance governing liquor by the drink in Dade, and he hinted that something might be ready as early as next month. "We're not dragging our feet on this at all," said Rumley.
At the same time, though, the county boss also seemed to be suggesting that community meetings should be held to allow other county residents to voice their opinions about the ordinance. "If we go into a community like where I live [the Boss hangs his hat in Rising Fawn], or North Dade or New Home, then we're going to have a lot of input on that from the community, the whole community," he said. "The commissioners will be responsible for setting those meetings up."
But questioned after the commission meeting, he made no more mention of such gatherings, and said he might have a draft ordinance in his hands by next week.
District 3 Commissioner Robert Goff, the "dryest"' voice on the commission, who usually speaks most forcefully in favor of defending the original intent of the restrictive 2015 resolution, was on a cruise and did not attend the meeting. But Rumley explained to Ms. Martini that it was to bring in a large chain restaurant like Applebee's or Logan's that the resolution was originally passed.
"We're going to be fair about this," said Rumley. "That's all I can say."
The Planet will continue to follow this issue.