The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce released a report on Monday showing that 79 percent of its members responding to a Chamber survey said they would like to see a referendum on liquor by the drink on the November ballot.
And 77 percent said they would like the Chamber to encourage the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to put the issue before the voters.
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The Economic Education Committee of the Chamber undertook the survey.
Joey Wilson, chairman of that committee, said today that “Our committee is not for or against a liquor by the drink ordinance.”
Wilson said the goal is to provide information to the Board of Commissioners, to Chamber members and to the public about the issue.
Question Not Asked
The survey did not ask members to indicate how they would vote on liquor by the drink if it were on the ballot.
Wilson, general manager of the AmeriPride facility in Watkinsville, said he believes some Chamber members want the issue on the ballot so it can pass and others want it on the ballot so it will fail.
The survey did ask Chamber members if they think liquor by the drink affects the growth and development of the county, and 90 percent said they did.
Ninety percent also said they would like more restaurants in the county.
The survey was emailed to Chamber members in May.
According to the report of the findings, released in the Chamber electronic newsletter and on the Chamber website on Monday, 30 percent of the Chamber members responded.
The newsletter did not give any indication of the representativeness of the sample to the population of Chamber members.
Chamber President Kay Keller told me on Tuesday that the full Chamber is waiting on guidance from the Economic Education Committee on what should be done next with the results of the survey.
Timetable For Referendum
Frank Bishop, developer of Epps Bridge Centre, called in January at a Chamber Banquet for the BOC to put the issue of liquor by the drink on the ballot.
Restaurants can sell beer and wine with food now on every day but Sunday, but they cannot sell other alcoholic beverages at any time.
The issue will have to come before the BOC in the next few months if it is to be on the November ballot.
Oconee County BOC Chairman Melvin Davis said at Commission meeting on Tuesday that the group will need to vote prior to Sept. 4 to put the referendum for the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on the ballot in Nov. 4.
That same timeline will hold for the liquor-by-the-drink referendum.
The Board at present has meetings scheduled for June 24, July 8, July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 26, and Sept. 2.