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Kingston Council took the first step in opening the city’s retail liquor business to competition from all comers at its October meeting, but not without a rare note of dissent.
Councilman Kevin McClure spoke out prior to the first reading of an ordinance that would alter an existing city ordinance that limits retail liquor sales to individuals who live in Kingston.
If the ordinance passes on an eventual second reading, eligible business interests from outside the city would become eligible to open liquor stores here.
“We put this [the ordinance limiting ownership] into place so someone from Knoxville couldn’t come into Kingston and open a liquor store and this and that,” McClure said. “And I still feel like those reasons are good.”
Councilman Don White worried that restricting ownership could leave the city open to a challenge in court.
“I just don’t think you can legislate who can have a business and who can’t,” White said.
City Attorney Sandy McPherson pointed out that Kingston was probably on solid legal ground with its current ordinance, since the special attention afforded to liquor as a controlled substance means “it’s one of the few businesses you can put restrictions on.”
Nonetheless, the ordinance passed on first reading with six ‘aye’ votes versus McClure’s lone ‘nay.’
In other Council business:
*City Manager Jim Pinkerton gave a status report on several projects:
• The Rockwood waterline is in the ground, and the contractor should be finished with cleanup this month.
• The Gallaher Road sewer extension lacks several feet of sewer line, and an inspection, but should be finished Nov. 1.
• All of the city’s new automated residential meters (about 4,000) are installed, though there was about two weeks work left to install the commercial meters.
• The wastewater treatment expansion is being scaled back for rebidding on Nov. 3, hopefully to begin after the first of 2012.
• The heating and air-conditioning project at the community center is done, as is the HVAC at the library.
• Pumps and motors at the Spring Street pumping center have been installed, but need more maintenance; and energy efficient lighting has been ordered for the community center.
• Street paving should happen the last week of October as part of the street paving program.
• Grant applications are being taken for houses that need work through Oct. 25 at 3 p.m..
• Security cameras at the parks should be done next week. .
• Council approved filing a Recreation and Trails Program grant application for the purpose of creating a “blue way” in Kingston — an area with facilities for non-motorized boats — with docking points that included Ladd Park and 58 Landing.
• Council approved a new debt policy for the city. The policy is now required of all municipalities by state law; City Manager Jim Pinkerton said the Kingston policy generally follows state guidelines for creating such a policy.
• Council authorized Mayor Troy Beets to contract with Stethan-Smith Construction Co. for $2.256 million for the ongoing Ladd Greenway project.
It also adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance, sale and payment of a grant anticipation note for $1.5 million.
This note will be used as the “interim financing” for the greenway, which is being largely funded by a state grant.
However, city officials learned only recently that the terms of the grant require them to pay the contractor first, then apply for the grant as reimbursement.
Council further authorized Beets to apply to the state Department of Transportation for Project D of the greenway.
Project D was a section of the greenway originally planned, but phased out due to cost overruns.
More recently, however, the city learned that the right-of-way property donated to Kingston for the greenway can counted against what they owe according to the terms of the grant.
This has allowed the resurrection of Project D.
• The Public Works Department announced its Fall brush pickup began this week.