Chattanooga Closing a Bad Church Nightclub?

By - December 30, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Tennessee club owners have felt the pressure from local officials looking to shutter their business for being a nuisance because of violent patrons outside the club.

Ironically, Chattanooga officials are looking to close a church teen outreach program Рwith the same nuisance laws used against clubs. Read more here.

Recently in Nashville, Bar Louie was shuttered by the local DA for violence in a public parking lot. A Chancery Court overturned the closing, but the publicity about shootings and the financial blow from being closed were fatal and the bar went out of business.

The Chattanooga church has a teen outreach program called Club Fathom. One of the missions is to support teenage gang members quitting gangs. Unfortunately, quitting gangland is not like joining a ten step program. Gang members that resign are often punished, and in gangland, being killed is a common punishment.

Like many of the club cases, Fathom’s problems mostly occurred outside the business. It will be interesting to see how the city fares against a church outreach program with problems in areas around the club. Stay tuned.

Ironically, Chattanooga beer laws prohibit beer permits from being issued within 500 feet of teen social clubs.

Monkeying with Nashville Distance Law?

By - December 19, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr had some strong arguments to overturn Metro Nashville’s longstanding prohibition on beer being sold within 100 feet of a house, school, park or church. Read her story here.

Problem is, the existing opt out from the 100 foot rule works. Kerr cites 6 businesses that have been exempted by the rule – saying that they have not been problems for the neighboring churches or homes. This is proof that the current Metro opt out law works. Metro should not completely eliminate the 100 foot distance rule.
Distance ordinances are not a perfect solution. The 100 foot distance rule sets a firm but arbitrary boundary for restaurants and bars to operate near protected places like churches and homes. No one wants a noisy tavern to open 25 feet away from their house.
The exception from the 100 foot rule is crafted to require owners of potential bars and restaurants to meet with neighbors, much like the owners of Puckett’s met with Kerr’s church. The law requires support from the council member that represents the area around the business. It requires a public hearing.
Based on experience with the restaurants that have obtained beer permits under the opt out law, council members asked neighbors to weigh in on the process. Businesses understood that if they wanted to locate near a house or church, they needed to be responsible and present a business plan that complimented being in a residential neighborhood.
For example, I love Broadway Brewhouse in Midtown Nashville. But I would never want to live next door. Its a fun happening place that is not a good neighbor for a residential neighborhood.
The 100 foot is an odd remnant from the past. But with the council opt out law, it works and should not be abandoned.