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Pigeon Forge pushes ahead with liquor laws

12:17 AM, Dec 10, 2012   |    comments
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Pigeon Forge City Commissioners are scheduled to vote Monday to finalize new city-wide liquor laws.

That's after the referendum to approve liquor-by-the-drink sales passed by 100 votes in November.

Monday commissioners will review for a second time the proposal to impose a privilege tax on businesses selling liquor by the drink.

Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear said it would cost the average business somewhere between $200-$1,000 a year, depending on their size.

The money would go towards the city's general fund. That's independent of the original 15% liquor tax that goes to funding schools, both statewide and in Pigeon Forge.

Commissioners also intend to vote to set the hours establishments can sell liquor.

Wear says they're moving to align city laws with state laws, which set the cut off time at 3 a.m.

Both laws would have an impact on Smoky Mountain Brewery's bottom line and operations.

Management said they hope to see a 15-20% boost in sales once they start offering liquor. They also intend to stay open an hour later and welcome customers on Christmas day for the first time.

One server, Jeffery Morgan, said he has lost customers in the past who sat down for a drink only to discover they couldn't order liquor.

"They leave Pigeon Forge city limits and go to Sevierville or Gatlinburg," said Morgan. He said the new laws will be good for servers because it will beef up tips.

He also anticipates an economic boost for the city.

"The people who are spending money on liquor are going to stay in Pigeon Forge because they're getting what they want," said Morgan.

However, not everyone is as pleased by the outcome of the election.

Last month 10News update viewers on a lawsuit filed by a group challenging the vote.

The Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge want a new vote because they say a ballot mix-up means some of the people who voted on the issue don't live in Pigeon Forge.

On December 3rd the election commission's attorney formally asked the suit to be tossed out this Monday. The attorney said the citizens group doesn't have legal standing in the case.

Ken Maples is the spokesman for Forging Ahead, a group of supporters of the liquor by the drink sales. He says they are considering retaining an attorney as well. 

Maples says they want to ensure those who voted for the law are also represented in the legal process.

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