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Distance Rules

County legislative bodies do have certain statutory powers concerning the regulation of the sale of beer in the county which are not shared by the county beer board and cannot be delegated to the board.  Only the county legislative body can adopt a resolution to extend the hours for selling beer in the county, and only the county legislative body can adopt distance resolutions, like the 2,000 foot rule and the 300-foot rule.  T.C.A. § 57-5-105.  Attorney General Opinion 82-325 (6/24/82).

When construing the statutes governing distance rules, it is generally the policy of the courts to construe the statutory provisions liberally in favor of the regulations and the places or institutions they are designed to protect, and strictly against the applicants for the beer permits.  Y & M v. Beer Commission or Beer Board of Johnson County, 679 S.W.2d 446 (Tenn. 1984); St. John v. Beer Permit Board, 1998 WL 832392 (Tenn. App. 1998).

Distance rules must be applied uniformly.  The Attorney General has opined that a Class A county cannot draw a distinction between on-premises and off-premises consumption for purposes of distance rules, so the same distance rule must be applied regardless of whether the establishment sells beer for consumption on-premises or off-premises.  Attorney General Opinions U93-74 (6/17/93) and 01-157 (10/25/01).  The Attorney General has also opined that a county cannot enact different distance rules in different areas of the county.  Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 02-092 (8/28/02) at *7.

If a county changes its distance requirements, it is the distance rule in effect at the time the board votes on the application for a permit that controls that permit application.  Attorney General Opinion 10-98 (9/15/10).

Holders of state licenses to sell liquor by the drink are not exempt from  local distance rules.  If they wish to sell beer, they are subject to the same distance requirements as other beer permit holders.  Attorney General Opinion 99-098 (4/30/99).