Boro pubs and low volume pourers may be closer to schools, churches

After a city council decision on Tuesday, pubs and venues with low-volume alcoholic beverage licenses may exist within 100 yards of a church, school, or college in Statesboro, if the company first obtains an exemption from the mayor and council.

City laws already provided for such “distance waivers” for restaurants but not for pubs, which by definition derive more of their income from alcoholic beverages than restaurants, or for low-volume locations. A barber shop or hair salon that serves a glass of wine or beer to its customers is the usual example of a low volume licensee.

These categories were created in an amendment to the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance promulgated by the council in October 2019.

“What that would do would be to enable these pubs, which are still restaurants or are in this whole gray area between restaurants and bars – they have a substantial amount (of income) coming from food and alcohol – to get this business license waiver, as well as the new low-volume license classification, ”City Attorney Cain Smith said Tuesday.

A pub, as defined by the city ordinance, is an establishment that derives between 40% and 70% of its income from the sale of prepared meals, while a restaurant derives at least 70% of its income from dishes. prepared.

Bars, which are not required to serve food and cannot legally admit customers under the age of 21, remain subject to the city’s distance requirement, without any waivers.

A local decision

As Smith reminded the mayor and council, Georgia state laws do not set a minimum distance requirement for venues permitted to serve alcoholic beverages on-site.

“Under state law, local jurisdictions have all the rights to determine what the business requirements are for on-site consumption,” he said.

A Georgian law sets minimum distances for places that sell distilled spirits for off-premises consumption, such as liquor stores, which Statesboro does not allow anyway.

But another section of state law specifically exempts places that sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, allowing them to “only … be subject to regulations regarding distances from churches, schools, and college campuses by residents. counties and municipalities. ”

Without waivers, the location of some churches, a DUI school and downtown Georgia Southern University has excluded a number of downtown commercial sites from low-volume licensing, Smith said .

The ordinance restricts low-volume licensing to businesses that do not receive more than $ 1,000 in wholesale alcoholic beverage shipments each month, on average, over the course of a year.

Smith addressed council on Tuesday night during the official second reading of the change to the “distance waiver” ordinance, which the council voted 5-0 at first reading on May 4.

The board vote for final approval on Tuesday was 4-1. District 2 member Paulette Chavers introduced the motion, seconded by District 3 member Venus Mack.

John Riggs of District 4 voted “no”.

Waiver process

An already established section of the ordinance prohibits the approval of any on-site beverage license without “a certificate from a land surveyor, registered in the state of Georgia, showing a scale drawing of the location of the premises. proposed and the shortest straight-line distance from the front door / main entrance of any church building, school building, educational building, school grounds, university building or university campus located within 100 meters of the premises . “

In practice, a surveyor’s certification is required for all on-site license applications – not just those believed to be within 100 meters of a church or educational institution – and service City Planning and Development is investigating proximity issues as part of the application review process, Smith said in response to an email.

Proximity waiver requests are currently placed on the same city council meeting agenda with the associated new license applications, and the waiver permit would be voted on first, he said.

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