Also Tuesday, the Gainesville City Council:
- Honored recently retired Harold "Deke" Richards for more than 36 years of city service.
- Approved a set of policies and procedures for approving tax allocation district funding for redevelopment projects in downtown and Midtown.
- Gave final approval to changes in the city’s hotel and motel tax. The changes allow the city to tax in-city hotel guests 6 percent of their room rates for the first 30 days of their stay.
- Approved an application for $20,000 from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for the Community Service Center’s Healthy Marriage Initiative. The program coaches engaged and married couples in Northeast Georgia.
- Authorized a deed of nearly 0.2 acres to the Gainesville-Hall County Development Authority. The land is part of an industrial park off New Harvest Road.
The Gainesville City Council changed the rules Tuesday, making it possible for colleges and universities to serve alcohol at campus events and making it unlawful to smoke in city parks.
Until Tuesday, alcohol was not allowed within 100 yards of any school building, including college buildings and campuses.
The rule conflicted with a planned barbecue competition sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network at Brenau University this summer, and Brenau officials went to the city asking for more lenient city rules.
The event, which is meant to be a fundraiser for scholarships for local Brenau students, could bring in more money if the university sells alcohol, said David Morrison, assistant vice president of Communications & Publications for the university.
"We wanted to maximize revenue opportunities and that is one way to do it," Morrison said.
The ordinance, amended Tuesday, now allows Brenau and future in-city colleges to apply for special temporary event permits with the city marshals’ office and the state Department of Revenue to sell or distribute alcoholic beverages for a period of up to three days.
The college would have to pay $25 to apply for a permit for each event, and those applications would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Brenau officials do not have other events slated for alcohol sales, but hope to make the barbecue fundraiser an annual event where alcohol is sold, Morrison said.
In other business, Gainesville officials finalized a proposal to ban smoking at any park, sports complex or recreation facility owned or operated by the city.
The new rule comes with the threat of fines from $100 to $500.
The ordinance, approved for the second time Tuesday, now gives smokers 90 days to get used to the idea of smoke-free parks. An original draft of the ordinance called for it to go into effect immediately.
When it takes effect, the city plans to enforce the ordinance based on complaints, but at first, most efforts will be geared toward education, said director of Gainesville’s Parks and Recreation Department Melvin Cooper.
Cooper plans to post signs at each recreation area, notifying visitors that as of May 18, all city parks will be smoke free, and maintenance staff also are charged to remind people of the ordinance, he said.
Anyone caught smoking after May 18 is subject to a fine of $100 for the first offense. Repeat offenders can face fines between $200 and $500, Cooper said.