The agreed to let voters decide if they want to buy alcohol on Sundays in a unanimous vote taken Monday night. A Sunday sales referendum will be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Another Council decision allows Douglasville restaurants to now pour alcohol on Sundays until 2 a.m., after the Council ultimately decided to extend the pouring hours of licensed establishments. Under the former law, Douglasville restaurants had to stop serving alcohol at midnight on Saturday.
The Public Safety Committee, headed by Councilman Dennis McLain, originally opposed the new hours in their report to the City Council but Mayor Pro Tem Larry Yockey re-introduced the ordinance in a new motion, which passed with a five to two vote. Those voting for the extended hours were Council members Yockey, Carl Pope, Samuel Davis, LaShun Burr-Danley and Doug Lequire. Those voting against were: Council members McLain and Mark Adams.
A change in the food to alcohol percentage ratio was also on the agenda but Council members decided to wait to vote on the matter while they reviewed it further. They will discuss the matter further in their May 15 work session meeting and could vote at their May 21 meeting.
Immediately after the vote, Yockey addressed the Council and those in attendance, saying the two votes taken by the Council were a win-win situation for the entire community.
"Not only with this help the restaurants, but it will help our small businesses; motels, gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, shopping and much, much more," he said. "It will have a trickle down effect. Small business is the engine behind our current recovery and we need jobs for our citizens. Good, healthy competition is a great tool to help spur job growth. I feel we breathed new life into our great city. We can now compete with our neighboring counties and communities. And with the passing of Sunday sales this Fall, we will all be on the same competitive playing field.
"With the opening of our new conference center we need to have a vibrant city that is full of life to share with our citizens and guests," he continued. "And this is a huge step in that direction."
Although every seat was taken and the City Council chamber was full again Monday night, it wasn't overflowing into the hall like during Thursday's work session meeting. Nor did the same number of residents speak out.
Douglasville resident Mark Austin addressed the Council, expressing his disappointment in them for their decisions on alcohol. He also addressed the Council on Thursday night, asking them to oppose the changes in the alcohol ordinances.
Douglas County Sentinel Editor Mitch Sneed, also addressed the Council, questioning the legality of placing the alcohol referendum on the ballot at all.
"It's my understanding from reading our newspaper that Mr. Yockey said that a group of people got together and proposed some changes. It wasn't a public meeting. I'm not exactly sure what that means but I'm just curious where that meeting took place or how it was formulated. That's my question.
"So if it were, in fact, not discussed in public and this was formulated outside of the public realm by a group of people on the Council, it would make it an illegal public meeting and therefore the referendum wouldn't be allowed to be brought forward."
Mayor Harvey Persons pointed out that the Monday voting meeting is not for debate and it is not a question and an answer meeting but is simply open for public comments.