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Town of Mountain City denies winery’s request for signs in town

By Bonnie Guy

The June session of the Town of Mountain City Council Meeting came to order on Tuesday, June 7th with Mayor Keeble, Vice Mayor Crosswhite, and all aldermen in attendance. There were no scheduled community presentations, however, Mayor Keeble did alter the agenda by moving the discussion of Watauga Lake Winery’s request to place signs within the town limits at the head of the agenda.
Keeble explained the city must deny the request within the city limits due to an existing city ordinance prohibiting off premises signs. Signs are not allowed except directly on the business property. Linda Gay of Watauga Lake Winery informed the council that the wine trail and designation as an American Viticulture area similar to the Napa Valley Area in California will be a tourism booster for both the city and county. Many wine enthusiasts travel to these unique wineries thus increasing tourism revenue. According to Gay, if the issue isn’t reconsidered, then Mountain City would be the only town along the wine trail without proper signage directing visitors and supporting the trail.
Following this issue, the original agenda was continued with approval of the consent calendar and questions and concerns from the council members. Vice Mayor Bud Crosswhite brought forward a request from Melissa Gentry regarding her dog rescue. Currently when Gentry takes in a dog from the city and places it for adoption through North Shore Shelter she must pay the full $50 adoption fee to the city although she is simply assisting with placing the animals. Gary Phillips informed the aldermen that there is a statute in Tennessee stating that city and county shelters must charge a re-homing fee to anyone receiving an animal from the shelter. This is mandatory with no way around charging this fee. The fee, which is basically a deposit toward the spay and neuter program, is a state requirement. The $50 fee is a hardship for Gentry’s rescue, which is nonprofit and strictly operates through donations. After asking several questions about the statute, Alderman Morrison made a motion to reduce the fee to $25 for any reputable, nonprofit shelter whose sole goal is to aid in the adoption of these animals. This would meet the state requirements while giving some relief to Gentry’s rescue. The motion was approved unanimously.
Next following questions from Alderman Jordan about the status of the lot the city has for sale in town, a motion was made to place the property with a realtor. The sale price will be set at $60K. This motion quickly passed with an all yes.
Morrison stated he wanted to first and foremost say thank you to the city workers and the city police department for jobs well done over the Memorial Day weekend. Morrison had received very positive feedback regarding how helpful a city officer was to the riders participating in a Memorial Day charity ride through our area. Thanks to all the city employees’ efforts, the Memorial Day celebration was very successful.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.