The Cumberland Gap Board of Mayor and Aldermen appears to be preempting any future problems that might crop up from certain “questionable” businesses. The BMA unanimously approved on first reading amendments to existing town codes restricting adult-oriented businesses to the C3 zone and requiring a permit for, among other things, peddlers and charitable solicitors.
If passed on second and final reading, the amendments would effectively place a barrier around the historic downtown and residential districts in the attempt to protect those areas from the “nuisance” of these enterprises while still abiding by rights under the First Amendment.
Peddlers, transient vendors, solicitors and street barkers would be required to complete an in-depth application and pay a nonrefundable $15 permit fee. Those exempt from the fee include solicitors for charitable or religious purposes and those soliciting subscriptions.
In addition to the fee, transient vendors will be required to pay a $50 tax for each 14 day period in which the vendors are in operation.
According to the drafted ordinance, the town is not trying to limit or restrict the content of any communicative materials, restrict or deny access by adults to sexually oriented materials protected by the First Amendment nor deny access by the distributors and exhibitors of sexually oriented entertainment to their intended market.
In other action, it looks as though the board might rescind its newly adopted “hold harmless” agreement. Recently, an ordinance was passed requiring those holding special events to acquire liability insurance. Part of the ordinance also requires the signing of a document clearing the town of any liability in the event someone is injured.
The agreement came under attack recently by some who felt it could effectively open a can of worms for those spearheading the special events.
During the June BMA meeting, former alderman John Adams questioned the verbiage of the agreement. In particular, Adams said he disagreed with a passage stating the town would be held harmless “from any and all claims of every nature whatsoever for personal injury and damages to property, for and from occurrences upon property owned by (the) town arising out of participation in the event sanctioned activities.”
The agreement also states the person holding the event agrees to pay all costs and/or judgments against the town which are in excess of the liability insurance coverage provided.
In June, Adams said he did not feel it was right to expect event holders to cover liability issues in the event someone is injured as a result of the town’s negligence in fixing a pothole, for instance.
During last week’s meeting, Mayor Bill McGaffee said the Hold Harmless Agreement was “probably not worth the paper it’s written on.”
In the event of an injury, town attorney James Estep III said “everyone will get sued.”
Estep compared those attending special events with the regular tourists passing through town.
“We’re not having them (regular tourists) sign a Hold Harmless (Agreement). That doesn’t void our (the town’s) insurance,” said Estep.
Although nothing was cemented during the meeting, it is expected the board will address this issue in the future.
The Cumberland Gap Fire Station will be acquiring a new HVAC system courtesy of a 60/40 matching grant from Clean Tennessee Energy funding. The town will pay its portion, some $8,461, toward the system.
In a related matter, it looks as though the town will be looking for a new fire chief to replace Andy Thomas, who is moving to Virginia.
The Cumberland Gap Market is in the process of moving some 300 feet from its current location. The board waived its usual $250 beer permit fee for the new location, citing the recent payment for a beer permit for the older location.
The Artists’ Cooperative is discussing plans to sponsor a decorative welcome sign.
Alderman Chuck Coffey said the Claiborne Sheriff’s Office will be upping its patrol inside the town.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.