Presently customers can’t buy beer before noon

By Josh Arntz
The Dickson Herald

Published Feb. 7, 2014

Burns may lift restrictions on Sunday beer sales at convenience stores, at the request of a resident and to boost tax revenue.

The Burns Commission voted 3-0 during Monday’s regular municipal meeting to allow 24/7 package beer sales within corporate limits. Vice Mayor Steven Hayes abstained from the vote.

The commissioners considered the measure Monday evening after local resident Edwin Spencer asked them to evaluate the hours of beer sales in Burns, in light of additional tax revenue.

Commissioner Shot Grove said he didn’t see how lifting sales restrictions “affected anything” within the town, and motioned to allow 24/7 package beer sales. He doesn’t drink and quit a long time ago, Grove added.

Commissioner Bill Allen seconded Grove’s motion. A public hearing is scheduled before March 3 regular meeting at 6:45 p.m.

“(Lifting the restriction would be) convenient in the summer months when folks are headed to the lake early,” Allen said.

According to a local ordinance, beer sold in Burns for off-premises consumption is permitted at all times during the week, except 3 a.m.-noon on Sundays.

During Monday’s meeting, Spencer asked the commissioners why stores couldn’t sell beer before noon. If they considered separation of church and state in government, then the town should be able to collect the potential tax revenue from additional hours of sales, Spencer added.

Lifting restrictions on Sunday beer sales would not affect churches, Grove posited.

“They’re not going to buy beer and go to church,” he continued.

Mayor Landon Mathis reported motorists stop in Kingston Springs to buy beer while on the way to Sunday Titans football games in Nashville.

The mayor knows people who get off work early in the morning, he added. Grove noted, they may want to have a beer when they get off third shift. Spencer imagined folks wanting to buy beer earlier while going on a Sunday picnic.

Only a handful of Burns residents attended Monday’s meeting, but those who spoke up about the measure supported relaxing restrictions in support of more tax revenue.

Sammy Spann said those who are going to drink will find a way to get beer anyway.

“It’s just tax revenue,” Spann added.

State v. local law

Commissioners and Mathis referenced Kingston Springs as a model of 24/7 package beer sales.

Municipal attorney Larry Craig has represented Kingston Springs for 30-some years. The city hasn’t restricted package beer sales during his tenure.

“My understanding is a municipality can pass a local ordinance regulating the sale of package beer,” Craig said.

Exactly when state law trumps local law however, is a little murky. State law prohibits beer or “like beverage” sales between midnight and 6 a.m. Monday-Saturday; and all day Sundays. You can buy beer in Tennessee on Sundays after noon though.

County legislative bodies can extend the hours for beer sales by resolution. State law furthers: “Cities… may impose restrictions in addition to those set out by statute, fix zones and territories, provide hours of operation and impose other rules and regulations to promote public health, morals and safety.”

Burns attorney Tim Potter was unavailable for comment. The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulates liquor sales, and deferred to the local beer board regarding package beer restrictions.

According to the Dickson County Clerk’s office, the county has no jurisdiction over package beer sales within Burns corporate limits.