Door Opens For Alcohol On Springfield Square.

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Springfield had their monthly Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting Tuesday evening.

One item on the agenda Tuesday night was whether or not to allow any kind of liquor in and around the Springfield Square.

An amendment was passed  5 to 2 that reduces the distance alcohol can be served from a church, it was 300 feet, it’s now 250 feet.  This will open up the doors for some locations on the square to offer alcohol as well as other locations across the city.

As one might expect there were a few moments when things got a little heated but considering the topic, it all went down rather calmly. As you can see the room was full to witness the decision that opens the door for some locations on the square (and the county) to serve alcohol as long as 40% of their sales were food.

My guess is we will probably see a few restaurants give it a go on the Springfield square. The question is will alcohol be the magic bullet to making the Springfield square a hot spot the city would like it to be. Many have tried, I guess time will tell.


Some say allowing alcohol to be sold on the Springfield square will bring it back to life. People on the opposing side say you can’t have alcohol on the square because there are churches. A few years ago that distance was actually 200 feet but it was increased to 300 feet to make sure that our churches, schools, daycare centers and playgrounds had some kind of a buffer zone. Not it’s back down to 230 feet. It seem a little like a compromise.

So that seems reasonable enough, however those on the other side believe that a reprieve of the rule in the downtown area (between 5th and 7th) would help revitalize historic old downtown Springfield. Smokey has spoken to people on both sides of the issue and one thing stands out, most people are either very strongly against it or very strongly for it, few seem to be hanging around in the middle. On the pro side the argument seems to be, “everyone else does it” and “It will revitalize downtown Springfield”.

With opponents, it’s generally a stance around keeping beer as far from churches as possible. The pros come back with “What is a church? can anyone just get together in any rented space they want and call themselves a church.?” Opponents reply with a resounding “Yes they can, a church is not a building, it’s people”….

Logically a person might conclude that the Springfield square is just a reflection of the RC Courthouse, the judges hang out there so it’s surrounded by attorney’s. If Springfield did approve liquor sales on the square and it became a hot spot, that would probably drive up real-estate prices on the square and eventually begin pushing out the attorneys. It would be nice to have the (already beautiful) downtown area around the courthouse become a fun dynamic place full of food and entertainment. But, however wonderful some think that might be, the fact is there are several churches on the square so that makes it a moot point, or does it?

To be clear, what they wanted was not a ruling to allow bars on every corner, it’s more of an attempt to attract restaurants that would be allowed to sell alcohol as long as 40% of their sales were food.

Jim Ball reporting


Bruce Head            VOTED

Willie Mason          VOTED

Billy Rey Carneal VOTED

James Hubbard    VOTED

Jerome Ellis           VOTED

Ann Schneider      VOTED

Clay Sneed             VOTED

The old Ordinance:

8-207. “Beer”defined.Theterm”beer”asused in this chapter shall mean and include all beers, ales, and other malt liquors having an alcoholic content of not more than five percent (5%) by weight. (Ord. #093-21, Oct. 1993, as replaced by Ord. #04-06, Nov. 2004, and Ord. #07-23, Nov. 2007)

8-211. Minimum distance from church or school. Conditions under which
issuance of permit is prohibited are as follows:
(1) General. In the consideration of such application the city recorder
and/or the beer board shall take into consideration the proximity of schools
(public or private), daycares, parks, playgrounds, churches, and other places of
public gathering, and interference with public health, safety and morals.
No permit shall be issued to any person for a location which fails to
comply with any health ordinances or any regulation of the department of
health or which would violate any zoning and/or code ordinances of the city.Change 15, December 20, 2011 8-13
No beer permit shall be issued to any person for the conduct of any
business at any point or place in the corporate limits of the city unless such
place is zoned for, or authorized to be used for commercial or other purposes,
corresponding to the character of the business contemplated in this chapter.
(2) “On-premise” permit. No on-premises type permits shall be issued
authorizing the storage, sale, or manufacturing of beer within three hundred
feet (300′) of any school (public or private), daycare, park, playground or church
as measured on a straight line from the nearest point of the school (public or
private), daycare, park, playground, or church to the nearest point of the
building or structure where beer is stored, sold or manufactured, excepting that
this provision shall not be applicable to the renewal of any existing permit
outstanding as of September 19, 2006; and with the additional exception that
there shall be no distance requirement between a permit location and any
church that has been granted a conditional use permit within a CG, Commercial
General zoning district.
On-premise permits shall not be issued except to eating establishments
that possess seating capacities for not less than twenty-five (25) persons and
where hot meals or lunches are regularly served and where food revenues make
up at least forty percent (40%) of the gross sales of the business. The premises
must be regularly inspected by the State Health Department and have the
permit publicly displayed at all times. The premises must be equipped with
adequate toilet facilities and hand washing facilities, including hot and cold
running water, for use by customers.
This subsection shall not be applicable to qualifying entities who have
received a special occasion license under Tennessee Code Annotated, chapter 4,
title 57.