Coweta defers ordinance decisions

Thu, 04/03/2008 - 3:49pm
By: The Citizen

County defers Sunday alcohol decision

It was a look at proposed ordinance amendments covering non-profit fundraising or political special events and alcohol consumption. But after a lengthy discussion that generated more questions than answers, Coweta County Commission Tuesday decided that solutions to the wide-ranging issues involved in the requests would be better left for a later date.

The ordinance amendment requests were introduced by Business License Director Eva Wagner. She said the ordinance on special events had been needed for a number of years, noting that the alcohol ordinance for consumption during special events is not a way to get around Sunday sales at restaurants. Under the amendment, a temporary event license would be required for alcohol to be served at fundraising events. There can be no charge for alcoholic beverages, Wagner said.

Commissioners, and specifically Leigh Schlumper, had numerous questions geared at determining the types of groups that would be subject to the ordinances and, subsequently, the permit fees associated with them. The discussion led to the determination that fundraisers such as those held by Boy Scouts, school and school-affiliated groups and many church events would not be required to pay for a special event permit while other fundraisers such as golf tournaments, soccer association events and turkey shoots would have to apply for a permit, pay the appropriate fee and comply with the conditions of the ordinance. Wagner said the fee structure for fundraisers was not ready to be proposed.

Wagner explained that the proposed amendment of the alcohol ordinance would coincide with a new state requirement stating that wholesalers can no longer donate alcohol to a special event. If the special event pays retail for alcohol there would be no permit required, she added.

Schlumper, Paul Poole and Tim Lassetter said criteria should be established for multi-day events. They also wanted criteria relating to the number of people expected to attend a fundraiser so that small events could be free from a permit fee. The expense of a fee on top of an event that brought in only minimal revenue would be excessively burdensome, they said. Poole also inquired and was told that alcohol would not be allowed at the fairgrounds.

Toward the end of the discussion, Poole suggested that the issues surrounding the ordinances were too numerous and opaque to come to a decision.

“There are too many issues in here,” Poole said. “I don’t think we’re ready for this.”

County Administrator Theron Gay said after the meeting that, while county staff is not certain at this point, the ordinance requests might make a re-appearance at the next meeting.

On the street outside the commission chambers, Faith Baptist Church’s Douglas Pitts held a sign admonishing commissioners to remember that “Liquor Kills.”

“We’re here to take a stand on the city and county pushing the agenda of Sunday liquor sales,” Pitts said. “We need to reverence the Lord’s Day. It won’t stop the sale of liquor but we need to take a stand as Christians.”

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