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