After a tense debate and a tied vote decided by Mayor Bill Wells, Murray’s four taverns will stay open until 1:30 a.m.
The vote came on the second reading of an ordinance to update Murray’s alcohol beverage controls to meet state standards. Councilman Greg Taylor moved to amend the proposal to keep a midnight cap on the sale of alcohol.
He says no real financial or public safety needs would be addressed by additional business hours, which renders the amendment useless. But after a 5-5 vote that resulted from two members’ absences, Wells voted to keep the ordinance as it stood.
He says it’s important for the city to move on.
And I voted no because I think it was time to go forward. We’ve danced long enough. The 10 that were here probably are not going to change their minds. We’re going to visit this 12 months from now and see how good of a decision it was for Murray.
The new ordinance will go into effect as early as next week and will affect the Big Apple Cafe, The Keg, the Bootleg Lounge and Mugsy’s Hideout, but it is up to individual business owners as to whether they wish to stay open until that time.
Much of the Council's debate on the amendment centered on the question of whether or not allowing later sales would keep customers from traveling "down south" to take advantage of Taverns in Paris and Puryear in Tennessee that stay open until 3 a.m.
The ordinance also allows for alcohol sales to continue into Sunday morning after a Saturday that sales are legal.
Additionally, for the first time ever, state law permits the sale of alcohol on election days while the polls are open.