Unhappy Hour: More land needed for liquor store site near
Mary E. Hinds News Herald
The Loudon County Economic Development Agency’s (LCEDA) plan to sell .63 acres at Centre 75 to Johnny James for his 72 Wine and Spirits liquor store has hit a snag. 

Both the Loudon County Commission and the City of Loudon passed resolutions approving the sale of the property, but now it seems the business will require .67 acres, necessitating the sale again be approved at the new size or the plan receive a variance from Loudon zoning laws. 

In a brief, special-called meeting Tuesday, March 23, the Loudon City Council approved the sale of .63 acres located in Centre 75 Business Park to J&L properties. Lynn Mills, Loudon city manager, said the approved land transfer was to a company owned by James, winner of one of two Certificates of Compliance awarded applicants for a Loudon liquor store.

At Thursday’s meeting of the LCEDA, Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp broached the subject of the size change. He said he could not sign off on a bill of sale for .67 acres when the sale was passed by the county commission and by the Loudon City Council at .63 acres. Agency President Pat Phillips acknowledged the problem saying the plan would need an additional five feet of property. 

Speaking after the meeting Phillips explained the extra footage was to meet zoning requirements. “They need a little wider lot to meet the set back,” he said. This would necessitate the sale getting another round of approvals at .67 acres. “Unless he comes in for a variance of five feet or so, then we go with the .63 acres,” Phillips said. Such a variance would have to be approved by the Loudon Board of Zoning Appeals. 

At Thursday’s LCEDA meeting Phillips said he wasn’t sure the property would meet the variance criteria for a hardship. He also noted the liquor store had yet to submit a site plan. 

The property has been a subject of controversy since last November when the county passed a referendum to allow liquor stores. Since the City of Loudon is the only city in the county large enough to qualify for liquor stores under state law, the decision of who would receive the two available Certificates of Compliance has been hotly contested. 

One store is set to be located on Grove Street in Loudon while other vied for the property in Centre 75. The LCEDA did not award an option on the property, but recommended the city and county sell it to the winner of the Certificate of Compliance. James was awarded the certificate and now must apply to the state for an ABC Liquor License. Earlier this month, James indicated he would go to the LCEDA for the title to the property then apply for the state license.

The sale of the .63 acres for the liquor store was approved by the county commission and last Tuesday night by the City of Loudon. The LCEDA board recommended, baring a variance, that the sale of the property at .67 acres be once again voted on by the county commission and by the Loudon City Council. Mills reminded the board that the store must be in operation within six months of receiving the Certificate of Compliance, which was granted to James on March 16.