New Beer/Wine Package Ordinance Challenged
As written in the Times-Courier
Gilmer County's revised beer/wine package license ordinance with its 10-mile distance restriction is under challenge. Six licensees have joined forces and are being represented by high powered Atlanta lawyer, Ed Marger.
The attorney spoke genially of "property rights" at last Thursday's Commission Board meeting, as he proposed changes in the ordinance, and announced that he represented Paul Ray of Town Creek Grocery, Betty Nadine Ray of Airport Landing, Robert Gentry of Gentry's Country Store, Clay Hensley of Round Top Grocery, Trish Boring of Boring's Convenience, and Angela Newton of PawPaw's Grocery.
In March of this year, the Commission Board revised the county's beer/wine package license ordinance to establish a 10-mile boundary between all such establishments, with locations licensed in Ellijay and East Ellijay to be counted as well.
Because of the proximity of such businesses in Gilmer County at that time, none could be sold without losing the license because of the 10-mile limit. In June, the county's new beer/wine package license ordinance was amended to allow a one-time sale of existing businesses licensed for package sales, to be excluded from the 100-mile boundary requirement, so long as the purchaser could meet all other package license criteria. The amendment provided for that single exclusion only; and included no allowance whatsoever for the purchaser. Should the business be sold for a second time, no beer/wine package license would be issued to the new owner if the location was within a 10-mile limit.
When the finalized ordinance was motioned for vote by Commissioner Del Land last Thursday night, both Chairperson Merle Howell and Commissioner Larry Davis voiced opposition to the "consolidated" ordinance since it did not include the amendment pertaining the one-time sale without restriction to the 10-mile limit.
County attorney Herman Clark explained that the beer/wine package license ordinance had been advertised as required by law, but without the June amendment providing for the one-time sale without restriction.
A great deal of discussion ensued, during which time, Marger again brought up the issue of private property and alluded to the Commission Board "exposing the county to the expense ... (of a lawsuit.)"
Commissioner Land went on record with an objection to Marger being allowed to speak, and the county attorney recommended passage of the ordinance as advertised, since the one-time sale amendment could be advertised and added later.
After Clark also assured Howell that the county's new extremely complicated, 15-page application form was not being approved along with the ordinance and could be changed, she voted yes on the ordinance, and added her request that the amendment be advertised and made part of the ordinance.
Commissioner Larry Davis abstained, and the motion passed, 2-0.