Grantville to vote July 31 on Sunday package and drink salesBy REBECCA LEFTWICH
Grantville voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on Sunday alcohol sales and liquor by the drink July 31. City council members voted Monday to place both issues on the ballot.
“We’re not making a decision here,” Grantville Mayor Jim Sells said in calling for a motion. “I’m only asking to let the citizens decide.”
Council members pointed to the thriving restaurants in Senoia, where liquor by the drink sales are in place, as a motivating factor behind the vote.
“The Georgia Conservancy said if you want to be a viable business community and attract good restaurants, you have to have liquor by the drink,” said council member Selma Coty, adding she has talked to Senoia officials about the issue.
Sunday sales would keep small business owners competitive as well, Sells said.
“If we don’t do this, we’ve limited our business people from competing,” Sells said, pointing out that cities like Newnan, Sharpsburg and Senoia already have Sunday sales and that the issue will be put before Coweta County voters July 31.
Stephanie Patterson, who shared her plans to open a country-style restaurant in Grantville, spoke before the council in support of a vote on liquor by the drink.
“I want to make sure that the money I would be investing here, I could hopefully get back at some point,” said Patterson, who agreed at the meeting to submit a business plan to City Manager Johnny Williams. “I am asking that you put a referendum before the citizens.”
Both motions passed unanimously. Sells said he was pleased that the citizens of Grantville will have the opportunity to vote on the issues.
“I’m very happy this is going on the ballot,” Sells said. “The only way we are ever going to have a good restaurant in Grantville is to have liquor by the drink, and that’s what we need to do. We need to stop spending our money out of town.”
Grantville is the only part of Coweta County where package liquor can be legally purchased. Sunday sales there would include liquor as well as beer and wine. Peachtree City currently allows Sunday liquor sales, with a town ordinance that prevents stores from selling before 1:30 p.m.
In other business:
• Krystina Buffington, who is concerned about the safety of children who play in the subdivision off of Greenfield Lane where she lives, asked the council to consider reducing the speed limit and to complete the installation of streetlights in her neighborhood.
“Twenty out of 32 homes in our subdivision have young children who play out in the street,” Buffington said, thanking the city for its recent installation of speed limit signs before requesting the speed be reduced to 20 mph. She also requested additional signage cautioning drivers to watch for children at play in the neighborhood.
Buffington advised the city council that the subdivision’s builder went bankrupt before completing neighborhood amenities, which included streetlights that remain only partially installed. She requested that the city complete installation to ensure further safety for children playing in the area, and so “the community as a whole can interact.”
Utility manager Joe Jones said he believes the neighborhood is served by Georgia Power and Coweta-Fayette EMC but that “there are a couple of options we can look at.” City Attorney Mark Mitchell advised that there are “certain conditions for lowering the speed limit” in that area. Sells said the council, Williams and the police department will look into Buffington’s requests.
• The council added $95,000 to the police department budget in an equalization process headed by Williams, as a result of an administrative committee meeting.
“That brings the budget back into balance for the remainder of the year,” said Williams.
“I would not like the remainder of departments of this city to see this as a way to make up a shortfall in budget,” council member Rochelle Jabaley said. “It’s a shame that this happened. Every department needs to buckle down and follow its budget. This is not going to happen every time somebody can’t make budget.”
Williams explained that the police department was underfunded, which necessitated the budget amendment, and that it now can pay two part-time police officers to “take care of the overtime problem.”
“It’s not like the police department went out and blew a bunch of money,” Sells said. “Our budgets in Grantville have not been what they needed to be. Mr. Williams is watching all the departments, and the housekeeping in Grantville is much better than it used to be.”
• A motion to approve the purchase of a new truck for the utility department dies for lack of a second. The issue will be revisited at the council’s next meeting.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend $40,000 in five minutes,” Jabaley said.
• Speaking during citizen comments was resident David Wilson, who is opposed to Sunday alcohol sales.
“I have to speak up as a Christian,” Wilson said. “I’m just opposed to the sale of alcohol on Sunday. When it comes to a vote, I will work against it.”