ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council Nearly Drafted an Ordinance to Expand the Area Within the Central Business District Exempted from Distance Requirements for On-Premise Alcohol Licenses during their meeting on Monday, July 15, 2019.
State law prohibits the sale of distilled spirits in or within 100 yards of any church building or within 200 yards of any school building, education building, school grounds, or college campus; Any wine or malt beverages within 100 yards of any school building, school ground, or college campus.
O.C.G.A. 3-3-21-B-3 gives local governing authorities ability to reduce this distance. This is what has been asked of the City Council.
The agenda question regarding this item was as follows: “Shall an Ordinance be Prepared For The Purpose of Expanding the Area Within the Central Business District Exempted From Distance Requirements From Church Structures, School Structures and School Grounds For On Premise Consumption Licenses For Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits.”
The current Pastor of First Baptist Church was the first to address the council on the matter, stating “We’re greatly affected by the ordinances that we have. We would encourage you to keep the ordinance that we have in place. We have morning and evening activities at our church, we have a full children’s daycare program that runs year-round, and we just feel like there needs to be a buffer with our church and with the sale of alcohol. There are plenty of commercial properties in our city where business people can sell alcohol and we feel like if they choose to do that they need to find a location that is out of that buffer zone that the state law permits. We appreciate your consideration in lieu of 500 people being here tonight, I mentioned it very briefly yesterday, I have about 300 signatures that I could share with you, I could come up with probably 800 with the people that have shared with me if you all need to know our feeling about that issue.”
JoAnn of the Ellijay Coffee House, one of the business’ seeking the right to serve alcohol in their store, was the second to address the council stating “So thank you for clarifying that, that is is up to you guys to make that change, and certainly appreciate the churches opinion on that matter. I actually got out with a bit of a walking stick yesterday so I could get my head around the current law. 28 Main, which is where it goes to, there door, to there door, is 31 yards, just so you know. So, this buffer, I think the distance is arbitrary. […]We happen to be on the other side of the church. When I was here five years ago, three months, we played with this, maybe even four months. And then, you all said it just needed to be tabled, it just wasn’t a good time. Five years, you’ve given alot of licenses out. We can only conclude on our end it feels a bit discriminatory to us. I feel that it’s a bit capricious of the council to just be… I’m not even sure what’s going on, I don’t even know why we can’t get one, when everyone else seems to be able to get one. I don’t think there’s a sound basis for it, I think it feels very prejudicial to us. That’s all I can say. I hope you reconsider it. I think that, when we bought our building, for everyone to think we would know that, I’m not sure how you think we would know we couldn’t get one when I could have a drink two blocks up the street from our building, so, that to me is just a ridiculous statement that comes up that you should’ve known better well we didn’t, okay? And at the end of the day I don’t really understand why other people have better opportunities than we do and I just think the entire central business district, including the theater, needs to have the right that everyone on River Street at the square does. And I hope you’ll take this really seriously, I think we’ve waited long enough and I think we’ve proven, Rick and I as a business, that we have contributed to this town in every way we can. We love this town, we have incredible guests and I’m sorry the church feels that way, but that’s a church issue, and I’m not asking the church to believe in anything, I just feel like you need to look beyond that.”
Council Member Katie Lancey made a motion to vote on this measure, stating that “I was here when the City of Ellijay was completely dry. I was here when we had the first pouring alcohol ordinance, and we lost by nine votes. I was here for the second when it passed. And I was here, last Saturday night, walking around, enjoying downtown Ellijay. As a member of the City Council, I feel that we are charged and it is our responsibility to facilitate the success of our business’ downtown. This is not about the Coffee House, this is about all of Main Street. So I would like to make a motion, that we direct our City Attorney, to prepare and ordinance for the purpose of expanding the area within the Central Business District exempted from the distance requirements from churches, schools, for the on-premise consumption”, which was met with applause from the crowd.
With no other board members seconding, however, the motion has been laid to rest for the time being.
Any future developments regarding ordinances such as these will be reported on as they become known, so be sure to stay tuned!
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ELLIJAY, GA – Monday, September 18, the City Council met to briefly discuss Special Events Ordinance and the Alcoholic Beverage Amendment.
The Special Events ordinance was modified per committee recommendations. Due to these changes it was recommended that a first reading be held at this meeting and a vote to adopt be postponed until the October meeting. This ordinance requires that individual groups, organizations, and people to acquire a permit to use public property and roads. This involves parades, assemblies, demonstrations, protest, road closings and other organized activities.
A second ordinance was presented for a first reading to recommendations of the Alcohol Committee which will remove the fees for Alcohol Licenses from the current ordinance. Instead, it will allow them to be fixed from time to time by the city via resolution.
Citizens and council members were asked if they had any question on either topic and no one had any. Citizens are encouraged to voice their opinions at the next meeting on Monday, October 16, 2017.
Approved in their April Meeting, the Ellijay City Council is moving forward with a new ordinance concerning breweries.
The new ordinance actually allows both breweries, defined as a manufacturer of malt beverages, and brew pubs, defined as a restaurant who manufactures and sells malt beverages on site in draft form.
While the ordinance does add normal distances from schools and churches, it also states that,
“All places of business that front River Street or the Ellijay City Square or are on North Church Street, including but not beyond 29 North Church Street, or North Main Street including, but not beyond 28 North Main and are located within the central business district shall be exempt from the restrictions relating to distance from church structures, school structures and school grounds…”
You can also read the ordinance in entirety below:
Ellijay City Council held its workshop, public hearing, and regular meeting Monday night, April 18th. The room was full and there was a good deal of time for questions and comments to the Council.
Once citizen input time was closed the meeting moved along quickly. A zoning change at 7661 Hwy 515 North, (Sturgeons Amphitheater) was granted for 2 acres to be rezoned Residential from Commercial. A paving bid decision was made. The Council moved and passed the Alcohol Ordinance however the Sidewalk Cafe Ordinance was tabled for further review by the Council. There was a first reading for a Technology Surcharge Ordinance and a decision made on their bank account.
Mayor Hoyle repeatedly expressed to the crowded room to come and sit down with him at any time, stating he has an “open door policy” and will gladly meet with anyone who has questions or concerns. See full video below of workshop and meeting: