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Council passes Square retail area; votes on new beer ordinance

Posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Metro Lynchburg Moore County Council had its second and third readings and approved the new beer ordinance for the Historic Square.

By a vote of 11-4, the council created a “retail district” on the Historic Square to allow the sale of beer.

The vote rescinded a 2,000 foot rule, which required businesses that sold beer to be 2,000 feet from a church or school or place of public gathering in this special retail district. The 300 feet requirement from a residence stayed in place.

That area is described as Hiles Street, from Majors Boulevard to Main Street; Mechanic Street South, from Majors Boulevard to Mulberry Creek; Main Street, from Hiles Street to Mechanic Street South, Short Street and Park Alley.

In an unrelated request, prospective business owner T.J. Harris asked the council to alter the existing beer license distance throughout the rest of the county as he attempts to open a convenience store on U.S. 231 near Chestnut Ridge. He hasn’t begun construction on the store, he said, because of the Moore County ordinances. He said because beer provides 40% of the profit margin, it would be a poor decision to open without being able to sell beer. He also plans to sell gas and light groceries as well.

“We need a store here, there’s nothing closer than 10 miles,” Harris said. “We want an exception, but most importantly a store.”

The license would be for off-premises consumption only, said Harris, who is from Moore County.

Councilman Arvis Bobo said although he personally wishes no beer could be sold in the county, he believes other rulings have paved the way for beer sales. “Just eliminate the county-wide distance rule and let anybody who wants to sell beer, let them sell it. Let’s just turn it loose.”

There was quite a bit of discussion regarding the request, especially in light of the new square district. Metro Attorney John T. Bobo advised several possibilities, what ramifications different options might have down the road, and there was discussion about tying the retail district bill in with the new request.  

Bobo ultimately made a motion that would alter the distance to 500 feet from a church or school from the 2,000-foot requirement and keep it at 300 feet from a residence. Keith Moses seconded the motion. The vote passed by a 10-5 vote. Voting “no” were Tommy Brown, Shawn Adams, Sunny Rae Moorehead, David Boyce and Amy R. Cashion. Voting “yes” were Bobo, Moses, John Taylor, Wayne Hawkins, Denning Harder, Gerald Burnett, Houston Lindsey, Gordon Millsaps, Sandy Lewis and Meghan Bailey.

The council will have a second reading at the Sept. 16 meeting.