Oconee County Commissioners on Tuesday night are to take up Sunday sales of alcohol in the county with the possibility of having a referendum on the ballot in November.
Oconee County Clerk Jane Greathouse released the agenda at 1:24 p.m. today (Friday) with the 11th item being “Discuss Sunday Alcohol Sales Referendum.”
Commission Chairman Melvin Davis has final responsibility for the agenda, but it likely he has informed the other three commissioners of his intentions to put the item on the agenda and has at least the two votes needed to get the issue on the ballot.
Greathouse also released the Aug. 2 agenda today (Friday), with item 6 being “Consider Sunday Alcohol Sales Referendum.” That could be the second and final action on a resolution putting the issue on the ballot.
The Tuesday meeting, officially the agenda-setting session and rescheduled from July 26, starts at 7 p.m. in the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
The county’s current ordinance allows for the sales of malt beverages and wine by groceries, convenience stores, or stores where beer and wine are the primary items sold.
It also allows for the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits by the drink in restaurants.
The sale of packaged liquor is prohibited.
The ordinance states that “All alcoholic beverages licensed hereunder shall not be sold on the following days: Christmas Day or Sundays.”
The county is allowed to issue beer and wine licenses without obtaining voter approval via a referendum, but Sunday sales and distilled spirit sales licenses, including package sales licenses, can only be issued if approved by a voter referendum.
Voters in the county approved the sale of distilled spirits by the drink in November of 2014, with 65 percent of those casting a ballot approving.
No Changes Yet Proposed
County Attorney Daniel Haygood is scheduled to lead the discussion of the Sunday alcohol sales referendum at the meeting on Tuesday.
The advance agenda for the meeting on the county web site contains only a link to the current ordinance. The county ordinance does not affect what is done in the county’s four cities, and only Bogart and Watkinsville allow the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Richard Miley, executive chef and owner of Catch22 Gastropub, at the corner of Epps Bridge Parkway and Parkway Boulevard, spoke before the Commission in December of 2014, when it revised its ordinance following voter approval of distilled spirits by the drink in restaurants.
“I know we’ve talked about it and it won’t be back on for two more years,” Miley said about Sunday sales, looking at Chairman Davis. Davis will retire at the end of this year.
A vote on Nov. 8 would fit that two-year schedule perfectly.