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Town changes liquor ordinance

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

After approximately nine months of controversy, the debate about Black Bear Wines and Spirits and its drive-through’s legality is officially over. The Mountain City Council voted unanimously to change the city’s liquor ordinance to avoid confusion later on.

After a long road of debates, lawyers, and conflict, Black Bear Wines and Spirits owners Tom and Rebecca Stanley will be able to run their business without interruption.Black Bear has been a constant subject at the Mountain City Council’s monthly meetings at the behest of City Attorney George Wright. Wright sent an official to cease and desist notice dated January 30, 2020.

After constant debate spanning months of meetings, arguments came to a head during the June 2 meeting. In that meeting, the Stanleys and their lawyer Julie Canter brought state documentation saying the drive-through in question was completely legal. Alderman Lawrence Keeble also testified that the state government told him the same when he asked directly.

“I don’t see that we have any jurisdiction over this drive-through window,” said City Mayor Kevin Parsons after hearing the evidence. “We just need to get it in writing from them (the TN Commission Council) to be done with it.”

Mayor Parsons asked Attorney Wright to investigate further between the June and July meetings. After further discussion on the issue, the City Council put it up to a roll call vote. Mayor Parsons repeated his assent.

“If they want to have that drive-thru, more power to them,” said Alderman Jerry Jordan. “People voted to make two stores originally for competition.”

“I agree with Jerry,” said Alderman Lawrence Keeble. “Nothing says they can’t do it and the state government said it. I don’t know if we need to change the ordinance. We should check on that.” 

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Agreed Alderman Bob Morrison.

“I have no problem with it whatsoever,” chimed in Alderman Bud Crosswhite.

The Mountain City Council agreed unanimously to change the current liquor ordinance’s language to put the argument to rest. 

Black Bear Wine and Spirits, the second liquor store in Johnson County’s history, opened its doors on Friday, December 27, 2019. As Johnson County locals the Stanleys, their family, and their friends spent approximately six months doing extensive remodeling to make the old skating rink, where Tom and his father used to skate together, into the store, it is today. Tom said that they chose this location because of memories and personal history. 

The Mountain City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. Because of COVID-19, meetings are conducted through Zoom. See more information, find meeting codes, and listen to previous months’ recordings on the city website at