FIRST ON 3: East Ridge blocks beer permit for new gas station - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

FIRST ON 3: East Ridge blocks beer permit for new gas station

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EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) - Cold beer is not sold here.

At least not at the new 4,000 square foot Speedway convenience store on the corner of Ringgold Road and Tombras Avenue in East Ridge.

The store is set to open in June, but it hit a roadblock Monday when the East Ridge Beer Board voted unanimously to not give the store a permit to sell beer.

The store's floor plans include a walk-in "beer cave" stocked with all kinds of cold beer but Speedway learned Monday that they can't do that.

An East Ridge City Code specifically says: "In no event will a permit be issued authorizing the manufacture or storage or beer, or the sale of beer within 250 feet of any school, residence, church or other place of public gathering."

The Speedway is across the street from a church, but the real problem is the neighboring playground. The church pastor said the city told him its 300 feet from his property line to the store's entrance. But the City said the playground measures less than 250 feet away from the new corner store.

"The beer board is following the city ordinance. There is an ordinance against beer being sold this close to a playground facility," said East Ridge Fire Chief Mike Williams.

Fire Chief Mike Williams also oversees city codes and said the Beer Board voted 4-0 Monday night against selling beer. But one member was absent and he said they'll vote again just to give everyone a chance.

"So since all the board members weren't present, we're going to have another meeting this coming Monday," Chief Williams said.

Chief Williams expects the re-vote to be another unanimous "no." The City Council will vote for final say if Speedway requests a variance to the code. The City would essentially be voting on whether or not to make an exception to the code.

Neighbor Willie Edmonds lives next to the construction and said he likes the decision to keep beer out of Speedway.

"I think it's a good idea. I wish they would outlaw it all to be honest with you," said neighbor Willie Edmonds. "There's as many liquor stores as there is churches and I'm about fed up with it to be honest with you."

So why did Speedway build in this spot with this possible outcome? Chief Williams said they knew all along the code and the risk.

"From what I understand, Speedway already has plans in place. And if they do not get the variance, then they will not sell alcohol," he said.

A worker close to the project told Channel 3 Wednesday that the plan for now is to fill the beer cave with soda. Speedway, headquartered in Ohio, refused comment Wednesday.
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