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Oakwood passes alcohol law changes
Council also voted to amend its 2011 budget
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Oakwood City Council gave its final OK Monday night to changes in its alcoholic beverages law, lowering the minimum requirement for seating areas in restaurants to 35 from 55.

The revised law also allows brewpubs, or restaurants where beer is made and served, as well as wine tastings and off-premise alcohol sales for catered functions. It also would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in city facilities.

Council members especially have zeroed in on the capacity issue, bringing up the matter at a previous meeting. City Attorney Donnie Hunt has said the discussion prompted him to step up efforts to update the city's alcohol law.

The work included City Clerk Tangee Puckett surveying area cities' seating requirements.

"All the cities in Gwinnett (County) that we looked at ... did not have any seating requirement," Hunt said. "It was interesting: All of those in Gwinnett had none and all of Hall County's (cities) did."

Councilman Ron McFarland asked about a provision that would allow the council "to order the place of business closed pending a hearing" on a charge of violating an alcohol law.

Hunt said closing a business "would be your maximum punishment."

"The City Council has the full range (of punishment)," he said. "... You can do anything that's inclusive of that, or anything less."

The mayor is empowered to suspend the alcohol license, Hunt added.

As for brewpubs, the attorney said several were seen in a recent tour of other cities as part of a downtown overlay project.

"You find them in high-end developments, for the most part," he said.

In other business, Oakwood is dipping into its reserves to make an unexpected payment for sewer system improvements.

The City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to amend its 2011 budget, which began Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 1, to account for the additional $467,506 expense.

Councilman Gary Anderson was the lone nay vote. He didn't elaborate on his objection.

"We weren't expecting to start repaying until the project was complete and we knew that it wouldn't be complete this year," City Manager Stan Brown told the council.

Mayor Lamar Scroggs said that was his understanding as well.

The payment will come out of reserves set aside for the city's sewer fund, he added.


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