City Council Waits on Alcohol Votes
Sunday Sales and other alcohol issues were discussed at the Douglasville City Council's Thursday night committees meeting and could be voted on at the May 21 meeting.
The Douglasville City Council had five alcohol-related items on Thursday night's committees meeting agenda but decided none will be voted on during this Monday's meeting.
Putting a Sunday Sales referendum before City of Douglasville residents was one of the topics discussed.
The City's Public Safety Committee has been reviewing the matter and Chairman Dennis McLain said his committee will go before the Council on May 7 to give their report. His committee will decide whether or not to bring the referendum before the full City Council for a vote.
If the Public Safety Committee were to vote no and decide not to let the full council vote on the matter, City Manager Bill Osborne advised council members that they could bring the matter up for a vote under the "other business" category at the next Council voting meeting, on May 21.
Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons asked if all council members would be present at that meeting, ensuring vacation and other plans would not interfere with the vote if it took place on May 21.
Several council members were concerned that if the council voted yes to putting Sunday Sales on the ballot; would there be enough time to ensure it gets on in time for the November election?
Laurie Fulton, county elections supervisor, told Patch today that a deadline for the November ballot has not been set yet, but generally the drop-dead date is 90 days before an election. She said if the City Council were to vote yes at their May 21 meeting that that should be enough time to get Sunday Sales on the November ballot.
Other alcohol-related items under consideration by the City Council include: extending serving hours for alcoholic beverages on Saturday nights in restaurants; legalizing open containers of alcoholic beverages on O'Neal Plaza; changing the percentage of food-to-alcohol sales in restaurants holding Sunday alcohol permits; and allowing art studio patrons to bring their own wine to classes.
If serving hours were extended for alcoholic beverages on Saturday nights and drinks were allowed on O'Neal Plaza it would mirror a situation that the City Council agreed to during St. Patrick's Day last month. The Council allowed later serving hours, as well as beer serving and drinking on O'Neal Plaza for the special event.
"That was the most fun people ever had in the square," Jeff Merback said, owner of Fabiano's Italian Deli. "It was an outstanding success. From early in the morning until 10 p.m., it was perfect. I think there should be an event like that in the Plaza at least every quarter or every month. It went beautifully; flawlessly. Everyone behaved. There were kids in strollers and adults were drinking responsibly."
"This was our fourth St. Patrick's Day event on the Plaza and it was, by far, the biggest party we've ever had," Neil Jenkins said, owner of the Irish Bred Pub. "It was on a weekend but definitely also because people were allowed to walk around with a beer or a soda and enjoy the music.
"I've gotten more feedback from that one event than from any of the other 20 or 30 events we've done out there," he said. "People say how nice it was to enjoy a festival and not have to wait two or three hours for a table. It was a huge success. It was a win-win for the City too. The City makes money from those increased sales."
"As for later drinking hours on Saturday, I think we should be on equal footing with the County, that's all," Merback said. "Why should a small segment of restaurants be under different rules? If there was a problem with those hours you'd think the County would have had a problems a long time ago."
Jenkins said the extended pouring hours on Saturday would affect more than just four or five restaurants.
"It will benefit the whole community," he said. "It helps attract groups and multiple businesses benefit, from waffle houses to mom and pop stores."
Changing the percentage of food-to-alcohol sales would mean restaurants within the city limits would no longer have to sell 60 percent food with 40 percent alcohol sales; they could sell just 51 percent food, meeting the State standard.
Chief Assistant City Attorney Susan Littlefield said the issue of allowing art studio patrons to bring in their own wine was complicated and would require further investigation into how it could be done legally.