Pub bars ordinance to receive final vote next Thursday; Council to hold workshop on topic Wednesday

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2018

People for and against the operations of “pub bars” in downtown Elizabethton will finally get an answer on if the businesses will be allowed to operate in Ole Betsy. During next Thursday’s city council meeting, the Elizabethton City Council will vote on the second reading of an ordinance change that would allow pub bars, also know as tavern or tap houses, to operate in Elizabethton. Pub bars are businesses that only serve fermented beverages such as beers, ciders, and wines while not preparing food at the establishment. The businesses also would not serve liquors or spirits.

The topic of allowing pub bars in Elizabethton has created a debate among locals with many people speaking up for and against pub bars during city council meetings. Those in favor of allowing pub bars in town argue that the new businesses will be a big step for the revitalization of downtown. Those against pub bars maintain that the businesses would bring rowdiness to downtown.  With so much back and forth about the topic, the city council will be holding a workshop session next Wednesday at 4 p.m. to discuss the pub bars ordinance before Thursday’s vote. That meeting will be held at the City Manager’s Conference Room.

“It is so important that we get together as a council and get everyone’s concerns and questions answered,” said Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander.  “We want to make the right decision that is going to help move Elizabethton forward. Whether it is for pubs or against pubs, we have to figure out what is best for Elizabethton.”

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Alexander said that a rough draft of the new ordinance should be ready this Friday, but that draft could see changes during Wednesday’s workshop. One idea that has been floating around during the discussion of pub bars is the option of disallowing the drinking of alcoholic beverages on the sidewalks downtown. Some feel that if pub bars are allowed then drinking should be relegated to the insides of businesses that serve alcoholic drinks.

“I think that is one thing that we need to address,” said Alexander. “If they don’t want it on the sidewalks, then we need that in the ordinance.”

The ordinance to allow pub bars passed its first reading in September. During its second reading in October, the city council voted to delay the vote.

Next Thursday’s city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. inside the Elizabethton City Hall.