Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oconee County Commission Chairman Davis Suggests Revisions To Draft Alcohol Ordinance

Next Reading In January

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight agreed to consider over the next three weeks changes in the draft ordinance presented to it that will allow for the sale of liquor by the drink in county restaurants.

Commission Chairman Melvin Davis recommended that the Board review the requirement in the draft ordinance that no more than 25 percent of the gross income at the restaurant be from the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Davis also asked commissioners to consider removing the requirement in the ordinance drafted by County Attorney Daniel Haygood that the sale of alcoholic beverages include the sale of food.

The commissioners also should look into expanding the areas in the county where alcohol can be sold in restaurants, Davis said.

Commissioners John Daniell and Jim Luke did not attend the meeting tonight, and Commissioner Margaret Hale, who did attend, will complete her term at the end of the year.

Commissioner Mark Saxon agreed with Davis’ suggestion, saying he and his fellow commissioners have “some areas we still need to address” before the next meeting of the group on Jan. 6.

The BOC is scheduled to give second reading to the ordinance before adopting it at that meeting.

Public Comment

Only three citizens came forward to speak tonight at what was billed as the first reading and public hearing on the ordinance.

Former Commissioner Chuck Horton told the Board that he felt the percentage for alcoholic sales should be increased and that the requirement that each sale of an alcoholic beverage include food should be removed from the ordinance.

Horton said he felt citizens approved liquor by the drink on Nov. 4 with the understanding it would bring chain restaurants to the county, and those restaurants will not come with the existing restrictions in place.

I recommended that the county increase its effort at enforcement of the ordinance beyond the minimal procedures in place at present.

Richard Miley, one of the owners of Catch22 Gastropub, at the corner of Epps Bridge Parkway and Parkway Boulevard, said he can “live with” the current percentages, but he would like to eliminate the requirement that each patron must purchase food.

Miley also said he is “100 percent against” big chain restaurants coming to the county because they will “push my restaurant out, and I’ve been here a lot longer in this county, supporting it, and trying to move it forward.”

Davis In Lead

County Attorney Daniel Haygood began the discussion tonight by reviewing the ordinance he had drafted, indicating that the major difference between the beer and wine ordinance now in existence and the proposed new ordinance is that he added a new license type for alcohol by the drink.

In addition, Haygood said, he incorporated into the single ordinance an old ordinance for the sale of alcoholic beverages at recreational clubs. At present, the county has two such clubs, Lane Creek and Jennings Mill.

Following the presentation by Haygood, Davis immediately raised questions about the existing map and about the percentage of sales for alcoholic beverages at restaurants.

Near the end of the discussion, Davis summarized his position.

“I think we’ve got to ensure the success of businesses that may come here,” he said.

The full quote is in the video below.

Hale Tribute

The issue will be back before the BOC at its meeting on Jan. 6, when a new member, Bubber Wilkes, will join the Board. Wilkes defeated Hale in the July Republican primary runoff.

At the meeting tonight—the last for Commissioner Hale—Davis thanked Hale for her 14 years of service on the Commission.

“We appreciate your work and dedication,” he said.

“It has been a great 14 years,” Hale said in response. “It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Oconee County.”


Anonymous said...

Who would have thunk it: Supposed conservative Republican Melvin Davis is supportive of bars in Oconee (or bars posing as restaurants), and also for big national chains coming into push out locally owned businesses.

And the other commissioners bow down with no retort.

Anonymous said...

Well boohoo, Mr. Miley. If you don't want competition, then you don't want a democracy and a capitalistic society. Government is not here to protect you from competition. I've never been to your restaurant because your mission does not appeal to me. And it wouldn't matter to me if your place were a chain, because I still would not go there. If you don't make it, it will be your own fault and not the fault of a chain. This isn't all about you, so get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

I second that.

Melvin Davis said....“I think we’ve got to ensure the success of businesses that may come here,”

Really Melvin? What about the current businesses that are here. What about my business? When are you going to ensure the success of my business? Interesting that this quote is online in video for "the right people" to see. Melvin..Since when is it your responsibility to ensure that the "businesses that come here" are successful? You are peeing down the backs of the citizens, and telling them it's raining. Good grief you make me want to puke!

Anonymous said...

I would have thought it would be a year or two before changing the ordinance. At least let people forget what they thought they were voting for before pulling the wool over their eyes. Guess not telling them they could change the ordinance was just a foresight on the ballots.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 11:17, there's nothing wrong with competition, but Melvin Davis is clearly bending over backwards to the requests of national chains, not locally owned eateries, who have been in business here for years, and put their money back into the county, not Wall Street.

King Melvin had no problem with beer & wine only for years for our locally-owned eateries.

But then his out of town developer buddy Frank Bishop and realtor/State Transportation Board member BFF Jamie Boswell want to financially benefit from national chains, and Melvin makes sure hard liquor is pushed through at a record speed.

Hypocrisy as I've never seen it so blatant before...

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 10:41, I don't disagree with your sentiment about Davis, Bishop, or Boswell. They are all here for their own profit. The gastro pub thing is here for the same reason but it hasn't been here for very long. I guess that one could say that catch 22 is a good way to describe all this.

For the record, I don't have a problem with the alcohol sales. If I want it, which I don't, I could drive about two miles and pay Athens-Clarke County businesses and taxes.

And where was all this outcry about hypocrisy when Mars Hill citizens tried to tell the rest of us what was happening? The response normally was: "That ain't ever gonna happen." Really? Can anyone question it now? And it is only being done to get more people to the Epps Bridge area to all the businesses. If safety were an issue, which is the main one cited, then why did Mars Hill Road have fewer than six accidents in a three year period? The sheriff's office can verify that, as it is from their own records. This is feeding the monster. Melvin gets more business here, then we need more and more. It never ends. Oconee County has virtually the same population of 32,000 or so that was here in the 1990s. We are smaller than the number of students at UGA. Yet, we are now luring the money and the problems across the county line. Welcome to Gwinnett, because that's what we are becoming. And good luck to our law enforcement, because they still don't get raises -- but they get more work to do on the "connector."