City alcohol rules changed

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Bainbridge City Council approved a complete rewrite of the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance on Tuesday night and its decision will have immediate effects.

One of the most significant changes made in the new ordinance, which takes immediate effect according to City Manager Chris Hobby, is the extension of the hours during which businesses may serve alcoholic drinks. Previously under local ordinance, restaurants, clubs and bars could not sell or serve alcohol after 12 a.m., although patrons could continue to drink until 1 a.m. Under the new ordinance, businesses may sell or serve alcohol until 2 a.m., with drinks having to be finished or disposed of by 3 a.m.

The extended hours could see patrons drinking later as soon as this weekend, if the affected businesses choose to modify their open hours to take advantage of the new ordinance. On Saturdays, alcohol pouring will still stop at midnight due to state law, which prohibits the serving of alcohol on Sundays except in cities which meet certain requirements, such as having a larger population.

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Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer was the sole council member to oppose the extended hours in the new ordinance, which according to Hobby was drafted to fix old rules which were contrary to state law and clarify other points on which city officials’ interpretations were inconclusive. Hobby said the new ordinance was written based around those of other Georgia cities but said there was no specific intent behind extending the hours of pouring.

Councilwoman Glennie Bench said she was comfortable with the new hours and the council ultimately approved the new ordinance unanimously, incorporating a few minor revisions suggested by City Attorney Tom Conger.

Other aspects of the new alcoholic beverage ordinance, such as the fee to obtain a license to sell or serve alcohol, will not be effect in practice until the council can address them at a future meeting, Hobby said. At its annual retreat in March, the council discussed seeking to adopt a new fee schedule for alcoholic beverage licenses, based on what type of alcohol is being sold and how.

In unrelated business on Tuesday night, the council voted unanimously to approve an alcoholic beverage license for Polisa Ann Tucker, who plans to serve beer and wine at a business called The Network, to be located at 1037 Faceville Highway. Although there were several citizens opposed to the city granting the license, Mayor Edward Reynolds said the council had received advice from the city’s attorney that it could not legally deny a request that met the requirements of city ordinance.