Documents filed ask for Circuit Court’s review
The Pilot Corporation is formally challenging a decision by the Sevier County Beer Board, in which Pilot’s application for an off premise beer permit for their new Seymour location was denied.
A petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the Circuit Court Clerk’s office on Monday, June 26. It alleges that the Beer Board “has discriminated in the enforcement of its beer permit distance ordinance by allowing other businesses closer than 2,000 feet to the Seymour Branch of the Sevier County Public Library to retain their beer permits while denying the Petitioner a beer permit.”
Last month the Sevier County Beer Board denied a new Seymour Pilot store a beer permit due to the establishment’s proximity to the Seymour Public Library. According to a resolution passed by the county commission, beer may not be sold within 2,000 feet of a school, church, or public gathering place.
The new Pilot Station, according to maps reviewed at the Beer Board meeting, is situated 1,003 feet from the library, a public meeting place as determined by beer board officials.
Fleming and his colleague, Pilot Regional Manager Gary Strange, maintain that, in their experience, they had not heard of a library being considered a public meeting place, as it applies to alcohol regulations.
Strange said in completing the permit application, they were required to determine the nearest church, school and home residence, and those locations’ distances from the store.
As Pilot’s argument points out in the court documents, there are four businesses at or near the Macon Lane-Chapman Highway intersection in Seymour that have been approved for beer permits—on premise and off premise—yet they are situated within 2,000 feet, and in some cases are practically next door, to the Seymour Library.
These four businesses include the Stop and Save convenience store (10623 Chapman), Kroger Grocery Store (10721 Chapman), Big Momma’s Karaoke Café (10605 Chapman) and Villa Francesca Restaurant (10721 Chapman).
Members of the Beer Board argued that these establishments all applied for and received their licenses before the library was built, in 2003.
The court documents rebut that argument on the grounds that, while the 2,000-foot rule stands, and the Beer Board had the authority to revoke their permits once the Library was built, the Beer Board did not revoke their permits, rather granting the four businesses annual renewals for their permits.
The resolution outlining the county’s beer sales regulations states that “the Beer Board shall have the right and it shall be its duty to revoke or suspend any permit now in force or hereafter issued upon satisfactory evidence presented to it at a hearing for any satisfactory reason as provided by state law.”
It also states that any Sevier County resident may make complaints to the Beer Board and file a written petition for the revocation or suspension of a permit.