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Officials want to consolidate Flowery Branch alcohol laws
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Tarah Teague grabs bottles of beer Tuesday afternoon to serve to patrons of the Lake House Bar and Grill in Flowery Branch. The Flowery Branch is putting together a new alcohol ordinance set to be put to a vote today by City Council.

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Listen to Flowery Branch City Attorney Ron Bennett and City Clerk Melissa McCain talk at the Aug. 5 Flowery Branch City Council meeting about the city’s proposed new alcoholic beverage law.

Flowery Branch City Council

Here are details about today’s meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m.

Where: City Hall, 5517 Main St.

More information: 770-967-6371 or www.flowerybranchga.org

Over the years, Flowery Branch passed an array of alcohol-related laws that, today, could be merged to form one document that, city officials hope, will be easier for the public to grasp and the city to administer.

City Council is expected to give final consideration to the ordinance, which has a couple of substantive changes but otherwise should keep business humming as usual for the city’s alcohol sellers and servers.

"In its essence, it was just an organizational task, going through these things and getting them uniform and consolidated," said City Attorney Ron Bennett in an interview Monday.

Bennett added jokingly that he has a "folder seven or eight inches thick as I try to sort this thing through."

"What happened is we ended up with a series of ordinances over several years, each dealing with a specific type of alcoholic beverage and the regulation of those," he said.

"We also had a scenario where we would change the application and licensing procedures, so there was a variety of amendments to each of these previous ordinances."

City officials are considering eliminating the alcoholic beverage caterers license.

Someone who wanted to cater an event and serve alcohol would need to have an alcoholic beverage license for a location and then they could get a caterers license, Bennett said.

"What we were finding out over the years is that caterers don’t have a brick-and-mortar location and they didn’t have a license from a jurisdiction, so as a practical matter, it was very difficult for any alcoholic beverage caterer to get a license under that code section," he said.

"The whole time I’ve been here, which has been five years, we’ve had one person apply and they didn’t qualify under the very onerous rules," Bennett said at the council’s Aug. 5 meeting. "... Folks can still cater as long as they have a license within the city."

Also, the proposed ordinance bans "adult entertainment (business) activity at a location that has an alcoholic beverage license," Bennett said.

That section backs up a current city law that bans alcoholic beverage sales at adult entertainment businesses.

The new document also clears up certain redundancies and inconsistencies scattered among the current laws, Bennett said.

City Council gave its first OK to the ordinance on Aug. 5.

Only Councilman Craig Lutz voted against it, saying that while he believed consolidating the ordinances into one was beneficial, he disagreed with the hours of sale for distilled spirits, according to the meeting’s minutes.

During that meeting, Councilman Chris Fetterman asked whether the ordinance would cover restaurants with outside patios.

He referred specifically to plans for Old Town Flowery Branch, a $15 million development that would feature a street of restaurants, boutiques and shops, along with a parking garage and town homes.

The new law "doesn’t regulate that at all," Bennett said. "It would be subject to having open containers, I suppose."

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