CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – This Thursday night at the Clarksville City Council’s meeting, new retail liquor certificates of compliance will be awarded to two of 15 prospective business owners, and the decision of who will get those certificates will be decided by lottery drawing.

According to city code, the city of Clarksville may only have one retail liquor store per 6,000 residents.

Based on an amendment to the code passed in 2018, only two new certificates may be awarded on each even-numbered year. This year, 15 people have applied to open liquor stores in Clarksville. If more than two people apply, the certificates are awarded by lottery drawing. Grocery stores that sell wine are exempt from this condition.

‘That’s the free market’

Kinfe Kahasay, one of the 15 applicants, currently owns a gas station, a taxi service as well as a liquor store, and he has wanted to open a second location since 2018.

“There’s only been 12 liquor stores in Clarksville for so long,” Kahasay told Clarksville Now. “I don’t believe any kind of business should have any limitations. It should be a free market to anybody. I got a gas station, and Speedway opened next to me. Nobody asked if I was OK with it, but that’s the free market.”

Local real estate agent Cynthia Green has plans to open Otis Wine & Spirits, named for the Andy Griffith Show character of the same name. She told Clarksville Now that she has a space in mind, but that it’s difficult to rent space for a business that might not be able to open.

“I don’t think there’s enough liquor stores in Clarksville,” Green said. “To lease a space you don’t know if you’re going to get, you can’t really do that.”

Green said that while the limited number of certificates might make planning more difficult, she does understand why the city would limit the number of certificates awarded so as not to flood the market.

Nadi Narouz, another applicant, said he and his partner Michael Tadress have invested nearly $120,000 in their business, which currently operates as a gas station. They have purchased additional shelving and coolers in anticipation of receiving a certificate.

What’s next?

City Council members discussed the certification process at an executive session last Thursday, with councilperson Trisha Butler suggesting that the law limiting the number of certificates awarded should be changed.

Butler told Clarksville Now she hopes to bring legislation to the City Council expanding access to certification at a later date.

The drawing for liquor certificates of compliance will be held Thursday at Clarksville City Council’s regular session at 6 p.m., at 1 Public Square. The session can be attended in-person or watched via Facebook Live.

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