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Liquor stores could be up for vote
City residents may get to vote on liquor stores in November
Package liquor will again be a question in McMinnville this year, provided proponents can get the measure on the November ballot.

Package liquor will again be a question in McMinnville this year, provided proponents can get the measure on the November ballot -- something they’ve failed to do the last two elections.
“There’s already a petition circulating but it appears most of the people signing it aren’t bothering to read the wording,” said election administrator Donna Smith of the first petition of signatures submitted to the Election Commission.
Smith estimates it will take 254 signatures of registered McMinnville city voters to get the measure on the November municipal ballot. The first petition submitted contained 20 pages of signatures. However, after all were researched, only 46 names were valid city voters, meaning liquor proponents are one-fifth of the way to their goal.
“To sign a petition to have liquor put on the ballot, and for it to be counted, you have to be a resident of the city, a registered voter and live at the residence where you are registered,” Smith said, noting the majority of those who signed the first petition failed to follow the rules written at the top. “A lot of people on that first petition lived outside the city limits or weren’t registered to vote.”
While reaching only a fraction of the number needed, Smith said there’s still much time left to get the question on the ballot.
“For those wanting it on the ballot, the good news is they have an early start and can still continue to collect names,” said Smith, noting the deadline to meet the required signatures is Aug. 25.
If the petition gets enough signatures, the question will be on the municipal ballot Nov. 8, along with elections for mayor and three aldermen.
Legal package liquor was last on the city ballot in 2010. The measure failed by a count of 1,556 to 1,356. It was the closest legal package liquor ever came to passing in McMinnville. Liquor by the drink passed in referendum in 2002 following several close calls.
Aside from White County, which allows liquor by the drink, all of Warren County’s neighbors allow package liquor. The counties permitting package liquor sales that border Warren County include Coffee, DeKalb, Grundy, Sequatchie, Van Buren and Cannon.
Warren County is among 60 of the 95 counties in Tennessee that allow some form of legal liquor. There are still 26 counties in Tennessee that are considered dry and allow no liquor sales in any form, either package or restaurant.
State liquor law requires there be a police force in place for any entity where liquor is sold, thereby limiting most counties to allowing liquor sales only within the city limits of their county seats. That is the reason only McMinnville city voters will be allowed to vote on the question of legal liquor and why, should the measure get on the ballot and pass, liquor stores would only be allowed within McMinnville city limits.