FLOWERY BRANCH — City Council voted to pass alcohol ordinances Thursday that will allow private businesses greater decision-making on drink specials and decrease a proposed food-to-drink sales ratio.
The city revisited its existing guidelines to refine, streamline and eliminate redundancies in the code, said City Attorney Ron Bennett. Present regulation is somewhat “piecemeal,” and areas of potential conflict needed to be addressed, he said. The existing ordinance was created during an earlier restructuring of the municipal code under time restraints.
Council members adopted on first reading a revision of the ordinance proposed by Bennett.
The initial version raised the existing food-to-drink ratio to 50 percent for ease in computation, according to Bennett, and placed stipulations on the offering and timing of drink specials.
Council member Tara Richards had concerns about delving too heavily into the regulation of private business, saying that she believes the free market and state regulatory requirements will encourage community-appropriate standards and public safety.
Agreeing unanimously that they were not in the business of regulating private business, council members loosened regulations on drink specials and drink minimums and maintained the existing 40 percent ratio of food-to-alcohol sales except Sundays. Georgia requires a 50/50 ratio on Sundays.
When writing the proposed ordinance, Bennett reviewed the laws in surrounding jurisdictions, and offered the ordinance with an eye toward balancing public welfare and future development. He also surveyed owners of area businesses that sell, or serve, alcohol.
Council agreed that a 40 percent weekly, and 50 percent Sunday, food-to-drink ratio would encourage venues that complemented the city’s vision for development.
“I’m not sure why we got into the regulation of businesses in the beginning,” said council member Mary Jones.
“I just don’t know that we need all this regulation,” said City Council’s Damon Gibbs.
Branch House Tavern owner Jim Lloyd was pleased with the council decision, stating that existing state alcohol guidelines, tavern owners’ legal responsibility for patrons and the for-profit nature of his business would ensure an environment supportive of public safety and in concert with the city’s vision for growth.
By being given the latitude to balance periodic drink specials, with an eye to his profit margin, said Lloyd, “It’s just another way for our patrons to have a good customer experience,” and to retain their business within the city, he said.