City Council passes open container law amendment

Stir's parking is located at the end of Station Street. (Photo: Staff)

Authored By Alina Hunter-Grah

Citizens will soon be able to carry their drinks outside on Station Street, which is next to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. (Photo: Staff)

The City Council approved a measure that will allow patrons to drink alcohol on the Southside’s Station Street.

Passed on final reading, the ordinance allows residents to carry open containers between the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and other music venues and restaurants.

The ordinance passed on a 7–1 vote; District 9 Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod was absent from the meeting.

District 8 Councilman Anthony Byrd, whose district includes Station Street, said he looks forward to what the open container law will create for the area.

“If you continue to bring those types of fun environments there, I think people will start wanting to move in, and I think that will help grow the community even more and bring even more businesses and more fun things for us to do,” Byrd said.

District 1 Councilman Chip Henderson was the only council member not to vote in favor of the ordinance. Henderson said his position is not against this ordinance specifically, but he chooses not to vote for anything relating to alcohol consumption. For Henderson, the economic benefit from alcohol sales does not outweigh the danger associated with it.

“I’ve never seen alcohol do anything but destroy lives and destroy families,” he said. “To vote in favor of that goes against my principles.”

The ordinance includes some conditions for local businesses. All alcohol must be sold by a business in or adjacent to the specified area. Alcohol must be served in plastic cups with a Station Street logo printed on them. Signs must also be put up to inform residents when they are leaving the specified area.

Station Street business owners are also looking forward to what the new ordinance will bring to the area.

Comedy Catch owner Michael Alfano said he doesn’t think this will put liquor sales through the roof but that it will liven up the atmosphere and keep businesses from having to police as much.

“If it’s a fun environment, more people will come to Station Street,” Alfano said.

Memphis’ Beale Street and Nashville’s Broadway are the only other streets in Tennessee that allow open containers of alcohol.

The ordinance will go into effect Nov. 28.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville.