The City Council of Duluth tweaked pending alcohol legislation to allow festival goers to stroll throughout the downtown district with a drink in hand during city-sanctioned events and festivals. If approved, patrons will be able to buy beer and wine at licensed restaurants and carry their drinks inside other businesses and on public streets and rights of way in the historic district during special events.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the legislation on October 11.
Ending years of contentious political and legal fights, Snellville voters turned on the taps for restaurants to sell beer and wine on Sundays clearing the way for seven local restaurants whose licenses were voided back in January to open their bars this Sunday. Other establishments will have to wait three weeks to being pouring.
For years, Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer has maintained that Sunday alcohol sales are the linchpin to the city’s economic future, with opponents arguing the perils of alcohol accessibility and its affront to religion.
“The people of Snellville have spoken,” Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said after the vote at City Hall. “We won. Now we can put this thing behind us and move Snellville forward again.”
In other Snellville news, the City continues to struggle with its 30-year snail mascot.
While the taps at Babes, Fannies and Riley’s have not yet been turned off, a three-judge 11th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Fulton County’s 2001 ordinance banning the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol at adult entertainment clubs. The Court held that the County presented ”ample statistical, surveillance and anecdotal evidence” as well as testimony and studies to support its efforts to curb the negative, secondary effects of mixing alcohol and live nude dancing.
The evidence, the ruling said, “certainly creates a vivid image of a county in which strip clubs that served alcohol played a prominent and unwelcome role. Sex and drug crimes occurred in and around the clubs and the neighborhood’s cheap hotels, and required law enforcement and the judiciary [the juvenile court, at least] to invest resources in combating the secondary effects.”
The 11th Circuit previously struck down a similar ordinance enacted by the county in 1997 because the county did not to prove that serving alcohol at nude dance clubs contributed to the “secondary effects” of decreased local property values and increased crime in the surrounding areas.
A Gwinnett County judge will hear arguments this week on whether the taps in Snellville will continue to flow on Sunday.
The opposition wants the judge to overturn the Snellville City Council’s Dec. 14 decision to approve Sunday sales by council vote arguing that such a change can only be done by a public referendum vote.
“This is not about religion. This is not about prohibition. It’s not about standing in the way of progress. Progress is giving people the right to vote,” [Attorney for the opponents Rick] Stepp said. “These are residents. They want a say.”
Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer doesn’t see it that way. He believes the plaintiffs, namely the mayor’s political nemesis Robert Jenkins, are standing in the way of economic prosperity by promoting “some moral mumbo jumbo.”
“Those people who are doing this are trying to destroy Snellville,” said Oberholtzer, who plans to attend the hearing in Lawrenceville. “I will be there to testify if necessary.”
A Gwinnett County judge issued a temporary restraining order against Snellville prohibiting issuance of additional Sunday liquor licenses for the next 30 days. The judicial prohibition comes two weeks after the Snellville City Council voted to allow restaurants to serve liquor on Sundays. The judge will decide whether to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting Sunday liquor licenses on January 27.
Eight Snellville residents filed suit arguing that the City Council acted unlawfully when it amended its liquor laws by a council vote rather than public referendum.
Seven restaurants already have obtained beer and wine licenses, and they began pouring two Sundays ago. The judge’s order won’t stop alcohol sales at those restaurants.
That in itself is a victory for the city, Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said.
“We won the first round,” Oberholtzer said. “We’re still serving.”
By a vote of 4 to 2, the Snellville City Council approved amendments to its liquor ordinance to allow restaurants to serve liqour on Sundays and to extend closing time from 12:00 a.m. to 1:55 a.m.
“I’m relieved we can now start building a better Snellville,” Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said after the vote that drew a crowd of more than 150 people at City Hall.
Former Councilman Robert Jenkins spoke out against the measure. “This city was built by family people. … That did not include alcohol a lot of the time.”
The City will accept applications for Sunday licenses beginning today.
The DeKalb County Commissioners again deferred a decision on whether it will sue Dunwoody. It was the eighth time in eight months that the Commissioners delayed making a decision about the lawsuit.
“I feel this is a positive step,” [Commissioner Elaine Boyer] said of the ongoing negotiations. “We have asked to continue mediation with the city of Dunwoody.”
The County and Dunwoody are in current negotiations over the transfer of county-owned property, including the multi-million-dollar Brook Run Park facility on North Peachtree Road.
The County also deferred a decision on changes to its liquor license proposed by Commissioner Kathie Gannon that would allow restaurants in mixed-use developments to serve alcohol despite their proximity to schools or churches.
The Commissioners will tackle both again next month.
In 2007, Lilburn tightened its liquor ordinance to counter Sports Fan Bar and Grill. Lilburn leaders linked karaoke, darts, pool, trivia, and other forms of “interactive” entertainment with crime. Lilburn banned all such entertainment in any establishment selling alcohol. Now two years later, Lilburn reverses itself changing its liquor ordinance to again allow such entertainment.
“Lilburn has matured, and we want to keep it vibrant,” said Mayor Diana Preston. “Our focus is keeping our business community strong and that means a diversity of businesses.”
And, she said, Lilburn — which bans bars — wants to accommodate its young adults, who enjoy pub atmospheres.
And the crime that will follow?
Preston said that’s no longer a concern given the number of police officers and the creation of the alcohol review board.
After refusing to allow restaurants to pour on Sundays, the Snellville City Council twice loosened its liquor ordinances. The Council voted 3-2 to allow local businesses to conduct winetastings and then voted 4-1 to approve a liquor license for a bowling alley. More than 150 Snellville residents filed into City Hall to see the vote and voice their opinions.
Councilman Tod Warner, who pushed the two measures Monday, said the intent of the wine tasting was to allow a struggling business owner to use his body of knowledge to stay afloat.
To allay fears of customers drinking in mass quantities, Warner said wine aficionados often sip the wine, swirl it in their mouths and spit it out.
The liquor debate is still hotly contested in Snellville.
Larry Rutledge, a deacon at Snellville First Baptist Church, pleaded with the council not to make alcohol more accessible.
“[Alcohol] is the most destructive substance we have in this country,” Rutledge said. “I would hope and pray that as Christians … you would stand up and be against this thing.”
That struck a cord with resident Karl Bostick, who collects wines.
“I’m a Christian, and I drink wine,” Bostick said. “They are small samples, so that you have the ability to taste a bottle of wine before you purchase it. This is not a license to party.”
Residents with Peachtree Park Civic Association are negotiating a code of conduct contract with radio personality Frank Ski’s Kolor, a high-end night club and restaurant seeking a permanent address in Buckhead.
If approved, the club would be located in the Buckhead Square shopping center at the corner of Peachtree Road and Piedmont Avenue. Kolor’s 15,000-square-foot facility, if built, will face the wooded backyards of homes in the neighborhood.
Kolor faces united opposition from its neighbors. NPU-B recommended denial of a liquor license and both Buckhead Forest Civic Associationand Peachtree Park Civic Association have vowed to oppose the club’s opening.
Negoitations between the club and the neighbors are scheduled to end January 31.