published Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Chattanooga City Council OKs first reading of beer on pedicabs ordinance

Seth Paul stands with the Pints and Pedals cab is parked Tuesday in front of the Chattanooga City Hall.
Seth Paul stands with the Pints and Pedals cab is parked Tuesday in front of the Chattanooga City Hall.

The hotly debated ordinance that would enable pedicab owners to allow drinking on their pedal-powered machines passed its first reading.

For a week, City Council has laid out the pros and cons to strapping a cooler of beer to these engine-less carriages and riding across downtown. Safety. Aiding drunkenness. Stifling business. Alcohol freedom. Those were the themes that officials went round and round on.

When the city attorney's office presented an amended ordinance Tuesday night, several council members balked at the idea of over-regulating the industry with a two-beer minimum on board. Councilman Chris Anderson was able to eliminate that part of the amendment before the council voted 6-3 to approve the ordinance.

Owners of Pints and Pedals and Chattanooga Brew Choo, who already offer pub crawls across town but don't allow beer on board, were thrilled with the vote.

That wasn't the only issue Chattanooga City Council debated on Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Andy Berke's administration asked the council to amend city code to clearly spell out that the city can hire a police or fire chief from outside the department who is older than 40. Currently, the law is unclear on whether the city can externally hire anyone after their 40th birthday.

Berke Chief of Staff Travis McDonough said the city began researching the law when the search began for a new police chief to replace Bobby Dodd. The search is still under way but has been narrowed to fewer than 20 candidates.

This amendment would exclude chiefs from the requirement and clean up other language.

But both Councilwoman Carol Berz and Councilman Moses Freeman grilled the city on why officials would exclude hiring a viable candidate over 40 for any position.

"We are talking about a 40-year-old man that has been out on special forces or some other operations and wants to be one of us ... by our ordinance we are denying him an opportunity to participate," Freeman said.

McDonough said the mayor's office isn't opposed to changing the ordinance. After approving the amendment, the council instructed the city attorney's office to research how they could change the law.

In other business, the City Council also unanimously gave the city approval to pursue any grants to help with cleanup and demolition at the former Harriet Tubman public housing site. The city will close on the property April 21.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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