The dust has settled. It's been more than a month since 62 percent of McMinnville voters visited the polls and declared liquor stores shall open in our fine city.
Now it's up to elected officials to determine the best ways for package liquor to be distributed. Based on preliminary conversations, it appears anyone might be allowed to open a liquor store in McMinnville -- even someone who doesn't live here. I don't like this idea and here's why.
People are constantly talking about the need to hire local folks for local jobs. This community is saturated with intelligence, they say. Our own residents should be considered for top jobs here before importing someone from parts unknown.
The same can be said for liquor stores. I would imagine there's pretty good money in this type of operation. We should let local residents reap the financial benefits instead of strangers. Here's what some other towns have done.
Cookeville's ordinance requires a liquor store owner to be a Putnam County resident. Enacted in February 2011, the ordinance states, "No person, member or firm, corporation, partnership or association shall be granted a certificate of compliance for, or own or operate, a retail store for the sale of alcoholic beverages as herein defined if he/she has not been a resident of Putnam County for two (2) years preceding the filing of the application for a license."
The liquor ordinance in the city of Manchester states, "All licensees shall have been bona fide residents of Coffee County, Tenn., and residing therein for a period of at least two (2) years prior to the issuance of their licenses, and each licensee shall remain a bona fide resident of Coffee County so long as he holds said license."
If that's not enough, Tennessee Code Annotated 57-3-208 states in reference to liquor stores, "A local jurisdiction may impose reasonable residency requirements on any applicant."
When liquor store supporters rallied their troops, the idea was touted as a way to help city government by keeping tax dollars from liquor sales at home. It was also presented as a major convenience for the liquor drinkers of Warren County to allow them the luxury of staying at home to buy their bottle.
Using those same arguments, if liquor stores are going to be gulping down profits, I think those profits should go to local residents. If our liquor drinkers no longer have to drive out of town, our liquor profits shouldn't drive out of town either.
There are plenty of cities which have residency requirements when it comes to owning a liquor store. In addition to those already mentioned, Mt. Juliet, Baxter and Sweetwater are other towns which require you to live there in order to operate a liquor store there.
McMinnville should too.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.