Critics call Mt. Juliet liquor rules too restrictive - WSMV Channel 4

Critics call Mt. Juliet liquor rules too restrictive

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MOUNT JULIET, TN (WSMV) -

Voters overwhelmingly approved allowing liquor stores in the city limits of Mt. Juliet in November. Now that the city is drafting rules about how many stores can open and where they can open, some say the rules are too restrictive.

One proposed rule says to get a package store license, an applicant must own the real estate where the store would go. That rules out locating in leased spaces, including many strip malls.

"We wanted to be certain that we had people who had a strong financial standing. So we didn't have stores pop up then go out of business; stores that were undercapitalized," said Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty.

Councilman Ray Justice said if a company has to spend all its money on the land and building, it might be even harder for it to succeed. He doesn't want the city putting up so many roadblocks to businesses that will bring in revenue for the city.

"We need to let these people come in with their plan, their money, and if it works, it's because they had a good plan, and proper funding, and it worked," Justice said.

Mt. Juliet got a big financial shot in the arm after the 2000 vote to allow liquor by the drink. That's when south Mt. Juliet attracted restaurants like Longhorn Steakhouse, O'Charleys and Olive Garden.

The Mt. Juliet council is also expected to limit the number of liquor licenses it approves. The proposed limit is one store per 8,000 residents, which would allow three liquor stores using current population figures.

Hagerty said the city is writing rules so the city's new liquor stores meet the community's standards; he points to one store outside the city as an example of what Mt Juliet doesn't need - bars on the windows and flashy neon signs.

The council is scheduled to vote on the new liquor store rules on Dec. 10, though Hagerty said that vote could be postponed while some last-minute legal details are worked out.

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