Change to ordinance could attract restaurants

Friday, September 21, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A Lewisburg councilman opposes changing an ordinance regulating where establishments serving liquor by the drink may be located, even though this may prevent a quality restaurant from coming to the downtown area.

At a special-called meeting earlier this month, City Manager Tommy Engram proposed changes to the municipal code, reducing the required distance from 500 feet to 50 feet between a restaurant serving alcohol and a church.

"This is a business reality," Engram said. "We'll never get a quality restaurant in the downtown area" if they can't serve alcohol.

"This ordinance really concerns me," said Ronald McRady at the council's monthly meeting Monday. "You can have a beer parlor within 50 feet of a church. I personally cannot come up with any reason to approve this ordinance."

Three favorable votes by councilmen are required before a city ordinance may be changed, and the first reading passed by a vote of 4 to 1, with McRady the only dissenting voice.

McRady also voted against a resolution supporting the expansion of Cedar Ridge landfill.

Otherwise, lengthy discussion at the special called meeting paved the way for unanimous votes of approval on every other item presented.

"That made all the difference in the world," exclaimed Mayor Barbara Woods at the end of the 30-minute meeting.

Industrial Development Director Greg Lowe returned from his trip to Japan the day before the meeting, and gave a preliminary report.

He said the trip taught him that we're in a global market.

"We're competing with a lot of countries for capital expenditure from these companies," Lowe said. "They will be comparing us not only with other states like Indiana and South Carolina, but with other countries as well."

Lowe reported good networking and said he met with a lot of good folks on the trip, as well as having a good headquarters visit with Calsonic Kansei.

The volume of views and downloads on the Web site for Lewisburg's industrial sites and buildings has increased dramatically in the last three weeks, Lowe said.

"The volume suggests we're being looked at," he said.

Lowe and Engram have met with a company about possible "branding" for Lewisburg.

"We may be updating our logo and slogans," Lowe said. "I think it's time."

He finished by congratulating councilmen on their favorable votes for new technology, including the GEO Pin-Point system, the facility management data administration system, and NCourt, a service that will process credit card payments at the Rec Center, City Court, and City Hall, without city employees ever touching the customer's card.

"I think it's time for that," Lowe concluded.