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Lula begins to shape new alcohol rules
North Hall city leaders discuss how to regulate liquor, beer and wine served at restaurants
Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin and members of the Lula City Council discuss how to regulate the sale of alcohol by the drink at a special called meeting Wednesday morning. Voters in Lula approved a ballot referendum on Election Day that prompted the need for a comprehensive alcohol law.

Lula officials are working to figure out what the rules will be for restaurants selling liquor, beer and wine after the city’s voters approved liquor sales by the drink.

Licensing fees, penalties for violations to the rules and how to regulate breweries and farm wineries are among the many considerations.

City Manager Dennis Bergin said at a Wednesday morning meeting that the final ordinance will incorporate aspects of state law, which sets minimum requirements, but that the City Council can add tighter restrictions if it desires.

Though officials made some headway in certain areas, more discussion will take place in the coming weeks.

“I didn’t say y’all would have all the answers today,” Bergin said. “There is no rush to get this passed.”

Still, the sooner the better, officials agreed.

Currently, only beer and wine package sales at local stores can be sold Monday through Saturday.

Residents approved the referendum to allow liquor to be served by the glass 303 to 232 on Election Day. A referendum wasn’t necessary to allow beer and wine sales, but city officials had discussed including that in a comprehensive alcoholic beverages ordinance.

Council members agreed to require new licenses when new owners take over an establishment, and they want to require permits for all servers in addition to the business itself.

Officials are also considering what limits, if any, to place on how often catering events can serve alcohol, as well as parameters for permitting alcohol sales during special events and festivals.

Bergin said another meeting will be scheduled in December for City Council to further discuss the ordinance before approving anything.

Bergin said Lula would work with the Hall County and Banks County sheriff's departments to identify their role in monitoring and enforcing the new ordinance.

The loosening of restrictions on alcohol sales is seen as a way to spur new business growth along the Ga. 365 corridor.
“We don’t want to stop anybody,” Bergin said, but balancing business interests with public safety is critical.

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