City to take over beer sales at marina

Published 8:01 am Friday, October 7, 2011

With the City of Bainbridge taking back over management of the Airport Road marina, its alcoholic beverage license has been transferred back to City Manager Chris Hobby, who had been the license holder when the city ran the marina previously.

The council approved the license transfer in a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Phil Long casting the lone “no” vote.

The marina unofficially opened for business in Fall 2007; by summer 2008, half of its 42 slips had been rented and there was interest from customers in buying beer along with gas, snacks and other convenience items, Hobby said at the time.

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Billy Birdsong and his wife Lynn began leasing the marina from the city in September 2008. They operated it until this past September, when the Birdsongs chose not to continue the annual lease. Mr. Birdsong has been hired to continue managing the marina on a day-to-day basis.

In June 2008, the Bainbridge City Council approved the initial alcohol license for the marina by a 4-3 vote, with former Mayor Mark Harrell breaking a tie among the six council members. Council members Luther Conyers, Dean Burke and Edward Reynolds (who is now mayor) voted to approve the license, while Council members Roslyn Palmer, Joe Sweet and former Councilman Greg Waddell voted to deny the license.

Although he voted to approve the license on Tuesday night, Councilman Sweet said he believed having the city hold the license was a risk.

“While the license is in my name, the city has the actual responsibility,” Hobby said. “In the event one of our employees sold alcohol to an underaged person or sold it to someone who has had too much to drink, the city’s liability insurance would [cover us.]”

Georgia law currently prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sundays and Christmas Day, except where it is approved by local referendum. State law also permits open containers of alcohol on a boat as long as the driver does not drink while operating the boat or allow himself to become intoxicated.

Other business

• Approved a resolution to amend the city’s water and sewer rates to meet the city’s debt obligation in the event of a SPLOST shortage. In the event SPLOST was not renewed or did not produce sufficient revenue, the water and sewer base rates would be raised by $0.50 each to produce the approximately $800,000 annual payment for the loans taken out to fund the city’s sewer master plan.