- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A recent state attorney general’s opinion that says the city of Clarksville’s Parks and Recreation Department can’t sell alcohol could affect other Tennessee cities.

The Leaf-Chronicle (http://leafne.ws/1e7gGto) reports that the Clarksville City Council passed an ordinance in 2012 allowing Parks and Recreation to sell beer and liquor at certain parks and city-owned venues for special events.

City officials looked at that as an opportunity to take in a little extra money that could benefit some their facilities.

But the opinion handed down this month by the attorney general’s office says they can’t legally sell alcohol at all; not even at the two municipal golf courses where it had been selling beer for years.

“The bottom line is simple - we can’t do it,” said City Attorney Lance Baker. “We can’t do it directly or indirectly.”

When the idea to sell alcohol was proposed, Baker said some council members opposed it over legal concerns, so the ordinance included the words: “in accordance with the provisions and requirements of state law.”

However, state law doesn’t give cities the right to hold permits for liquor or beer, even though a number of cities had claimed such rights over the years.

“The (state) law was a gray area, in my opinion,” Baker said. “Other cities had been doing it, but according to the attorney general’s opinion, they don’t have the power to do it and have not had the power to do it.”

Murfreesboro City Attorney Susan McGannon said Murfreesboro has long sold beer at its one municipal golf course. But following the Clarksville ruling she said the city is now reviewing its own practices.

“We had assumed what we did is legally permissible,” she said. “We are reviewing what we do based on that opinion, with regards to our municipal golf course.”

Memphis’ permits administrator said its attorneys are also looking at the opinion.

As for Clarksville, Baker said he is preparing an amendment to the 2012 city ordinance to delete the provisions that Parks and Recreation can sell alcohol and beer and will ask the City Council to pass it.

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Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, http://www.theleafchronicle.com

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