Dawson County Planning Director presents update of proposed county alcohol ordinance


Jameson Kinley

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – Planning Director Jameson Kinley presented an update of some key changes to the county’s proposed alcohol ordinance at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting. The final ordinance must be approved by the Board of Commissioners.

Explained Kinley, “The reason for the update is to add the section about agribusiness, which is really our wedding venues.”

Wedding venue operators who want to allow alcohol on the premises must either obtain an alcohol license or — if they are renting the venue — to allow the renter to bring their own alcohol to serve guests – brown bagging.

“Brown bagging must be on a premise where a business license has been issued,” Kinley said. The responsibility for following state law and county ordinance is the responsibility of the renter.

Wedding venues will not be required to comply with the 50-50 regulation that requires businesses that serve alcohol to generate 50 percent of their revenue from food sales.

In other business, the Planning Commission approved the following variances:

  • A request by Thomas and Leann Harter to vary from the Dawson County Subdivision Regulations Article V that states that no more than five lots will be created from a parent tract within a five-year period;
  • A request by Kurt Trump to vary from the Dawson County Land Use Resolution Article III, Section 309 C.3 for a front setback reduction from 40 feet to 20 feet to bring a non-conforming structure into compliance.

Commissioners took the following action on rezoning requests:

  • Approved a request by the applicant, Jim King, to postpone a rezoning request on ZA 21-07 regarding the building of retail/office/warehouse space from RA to CHB. and ZA 21-08 to rezone 30.48 acres for the purpose of developing a 145 semi-attached residential neighborhood from RA to RMF.
  • Recommended approval by the Board of Commissioners of a request by Tim Hamby to rezone TMP 106-051, 106-051-015, 106-051-014 from RA and VCR to RSR for the purpose of combining and subdividing the parcels per RSR standards.

Alcohol ordinance tabled until next meeting

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alcohol ordinance
alcohol ordinance

Photo by Tim Meyer on Unsplash
The alcohol license for package stores is stirring much debate between council members who want a free-market system over a point system. The issue has been tabled until the next meeting. Mayor Liz Ordiales is hoping the ordinance comes to vote soon due to the time and expense involved in putting it together.

The City of Hiawassee tabled voting on the Alcohol Ordinance as questions over how package licenses would be awarded. The alcohol ordinance as written contained a point system in which the applicant with the most points would be awarded the only license issued. Some members didn’t like the idea of a point system and wanted a free market system, where anyone meeting the state requirements could obtain the license.

The controversy

Council member Amy Barrett, who was on the committee that worked on the alcohol ordinance, was one who opposed it.

“I want to take the point system out,” said Barrett. “A lot of people wouldn’t sign the petition because they felt we already have someone in mind (to get the license). We don’t do that for other businesses like insurance companies.”

Councilmember Patsy Owens, who was also on the committee, didn’t agree.

“I just don’t want 17 liquor stores in a two miles radius,” she said.

Councilmember Nancy Noblet agreed there should be limits. “My daughter just opened an ice cream shop and I wouldn’t want any more because our town isn’t big enough.”

Noblet’s daughter and her husband own the Blazin’ Scoops ice cream shop. Noblet also pointed out that she didn’t wanted anymore establishments similar to her “Noblet’s 5&10.”

Mayor Liz Ordiales said she didn’t think the market would saturated with liquor stores because of the state requirements which include a

alcohol ordinance

Photo by Marina Khrapova on Unsplash
The city is looking for volunteers on Nov. 21 to help decorate for Christmas.

2,000 square foot building, a well-lit parking lot, and $350,000 worth of inventory.

“It’s expensive and I’ve talked to maybe four who could afford to open a liquor store,” she said, adding she didn’t care which route the council wanted to go, as long as they made a decision soon. “I really don’t want to spend more money on this, we’ve spent a lot already.”

Councilmember Jay Chastain said the council needed to consider which option put the city council in the best light. “Does a point system make us look more or less bias?”

The issue was tabled until the December meeting so the members could continue to review the ordinance, but Ordiales encouraged the board not to put it off much longer.

Ordiales said in a email to fetchyournews.com that a lot of time and money went into the development of the ordinance.

“That’s the investment right now. It was odd to me that there was so much conversation about the point system when that was there since the very beginning of the meetings. We’ve spent right at $8,000 on legal counsel and a tremendous amount of time from our Court clerk, Economic Development Director and the council. I don’t have a true measure of hours but it is substantial,” she said.


ARC funding

The council passed a resolution to submit a grant for ARC for a matching grant to help with city development. The grant can go up to $600,000 and the city would have to provide a 30-percent match which can include the purchase of property and the expenses involved. The city has already purchased property and including all the fees, paid $137,350, leaving $62,650 to pay in if they are accepted.

Volunteers needed

The city is looking for 15-20 volunteers to put up thousands of lights and fixtures for Christmas on Saturday, November 21, starting at 1 p.m.


Feature image cutline: The City of Hiawassee was awarded the designation of “Rural Zone” by the Department of Community Affairs. Economic Developer, Denise McKay and Mayor Liz Ordiales worked on getting the designation for months. It will provide potential investors with tax credit for employment, purchase and rehabilitation of buildings.






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