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Hall County considers alcohol code changes
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners is considering new regulations for businesses that want to allow customers to buy or consume alcohol on their premises.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote June 27 on creating a new a classification for alcohol sales of packaged products called Specialty Wine Shops.

A Gainesville business, the Vine and Cheese, wants to relocate to the county, but the previous ordinance would have prevented the store from operating because it sells more alcohol than food, county work session documents said.

“These are wines that you would not normally find in your grocery stores,” said Susan Rector, director of the county business license office. “And along with that, they’re going to have cheeses and crackers and around the holidays they’ll have gift baskets and things like that.”

The county ordinance normally requires that businesses that sell alcohol sell more food. This is to discourage a proliferation of package or liquor stores in the county. State law requires restaurants to sell more food than alcohol.

In a summary to commissioners, Rector said the retailer may sell more food than alcohol, but during the rest of the year food accounts for an estimated 20 percent of sales. The store would also be allowed to hold wine tastings.

Rector said the county and the business owner have talked for the past couple of months.

The other code amendment would clarify the county’s position on businesses allowing customers to bring their own alcohol into the retail location.

Rector said a couple of businesses have contacted her office to see if this type of business would be allowed. She declined to name the businesses.

“There’s never been anything specific about businesses that don’t sell alcohol, as to whether or not they can or cannot,” Rector said. “There’s nothing in the code that clearly says ‘Yes, you can’ or ‘No, you cannot.’”

Businesses in the past that have offered “brown bagging” have had problems with fighting and disorderly conduct. Brown bagging is defined as having an open container with alcohol or drinking alcohol that was bought elsewhere at the location.

Under the amendment, brown bagging will still be illegal, but it will allow businesses to use a licensed alcohol caterer.

“It really just clarifies the issue,” Rector said.

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