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.
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.
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.
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.”