Kayla Fleming/For the Times Van Presley spoke to the Lafayette City Council concerning abstaining from voting.

Kayla Fleming/For the Times

Van Presley spoke to the Lafayette City Council concerning abstaining from voting.

The Lafayette City Council discussed a recommendation made by the city's beer board at its meeting on Oct. 2.

The ordinance - which was made during the beer board's last meeting on Sept. 25 - would move the distance from 500 feet to 200 feet from door to door of an establishment that sells alcohol and a school, church, or place in which 50 people or more may gather at one time, excluding retail outlets.

The ordinance passed with a vote of four in favor, with two abstaining, at the beer board meeting, but still had to be approved by the council.

Councilman Roger Russell abstained from voting during the beer board meeting.

"It looks like, if we change this to 200 feet, we are chipping away at this ordinance," Russell said. "And we would first allow a business to sell packaged beer 200 feet from a church, which could bedirectly across the street from two or three of the churches in Lafayette … and then if we do that, if we first allow them to sell packaged, then maybe future council people, or if the mayor and some people keep pushing it, we would allow them to sell beer on Sunday … and then, according to (Mayor Richard Driver's) plan, you could … serve beer in the same establishment. If we keep chipping away at it, we could have what you would generally call a tavern, right directly in front of our churches, and I don't think we should treat the churches that way."

Driver added, "If we pass our beer-on-premise ordinance, we could make it to prohibit a tavern from being established, and a tavern being defined as an establishment that strictly sales beer. There are ways that we could control or prohibit taverns from being established there."

Councilwoman Pam Cothron told the council that she agreed with Russell.

"It does all tie together, and there are things that are in our regulations now that we really need to change before, I feel like, we can adopt any three of these," Cothron said, referring to the three proposals offered to the beer board, including the change in distance. "I know you can limit the beer sales on Sundays to a certain length of time, but some churches have activities. They're still there. Some schools have weekend activities. They're still there."

Cothron said that she would like to see protections for those opposed to the possible new alcohol-related ordinances.

"We need to revise our regulations before voting on these things," Cothron said. "If we do pass the 500-feet to 200-feet perimeter, I cannot vote yes on anything else, because it will be too close to these churches and schools."

Driver reminded the council that Sunday beer sales and on-premise beer discussion were not the issues being voted on at this meeting.

The ordinance failed after only receiving three yes votes. Jerry Willmore, Seth Blankenship, and Jason Phelps each voted yes. Cothron and Steve Turner voted no. Russell again abstained.

There will be another beer board meeting on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.

Citizen Van Presley spoke to the council concerning their votes.

"I've always seen things black and white," Presley said. "I don't think Mr. Russell sees thinks black and white. He's abstained twice. Vote yes or no."

Presley asked Russell directly why he abstained.

"The rules are, if it's a tie vote, the mayor can vote, and obviously he wants to pass this," Russell said. "So, by abstaining or not voting, it's a 2-3 vote, so it's not a tie. If I vote, and I vote no, it's a tie, so the mayor can vote. But I voted so the mayor can't vote."

When pressed further by Presley, Russell again stated that he did not want the mayor to vote. Presley told Russell that he should "say yes or no."

"Did the people vote you in to say yes or no, or did the people vote you in to pass," Presley asked.

Russell responded that he did not know.

The council authorized the city to proceed in submitting a proposal to purchase properties for the airport with a Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics grant. The motion passed, though Willmore voted no.

The council authorized the mayor to apply for a grant which helps with loss control.

"In the past, we've used this money to put cameras up," Driver said.

He added the grant was a 50-50 grant, meaning "if we use $8,000, they'll reimburse us $4,000." The motion passed, though again Willmore voted no.

Willmore later said that he felt the council "wants to spend money, but they don't want revenue." He confirmed that he was referring to the decisions made by the beer board and the council concerning the proposals and recommendations made by the mayor. He added that taxes on beer brought in around $22,000 last month.

In other business:

• The council also authorized the city to proceed with the annexation of the city's wastewater treatment plant into the city limits.

• The council adopted both ordinances, amending the setback distance for swimming pools.

• The council also approved the purchase of a methane leak detector for the gas department.

• The council authorized the hiring of Ryan Avera as Public Works Laborer and the promotion of Daniel Carr to gas department service person II.