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Alcohol public hearing Tuesday
Input sought for proposed ordinance changes
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    Changes to Statesboro’s alcohol ordinance are front and center again as the city council gears up for a public hearing and a staff workshop to discuss the matter.
    On Tuesday evening, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m., the council invites members of the community to a public hearing being held on the second floor of City Hall. Citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting to express their support or dismay for the proposed changes to the alcohol ordinance or bring up issues related to the ordinance they feel have not been addressed by the council.
    The mayor and council have received numerous requests for public input after modifications to the alcohol ordinance passed first readings at their meeting in early October. At that time, four proposed changes were addressed by the council.
    The first two changes — extending the time licensees can serve alcohol on premises from midnight to 1 a.m., for Saturday nights and reducing the excise tax filing requirement for licensees from monthly to quarterly — were passed into law at the subsequent meeting in October. Any modification to the city code must pass two readings by the council before they become law.
    The other two — creating three alcohol license categories and abolishing the Alcohol Control Board — are still being fine tuned for a scheduled second reading at the council’s Dec. 16 meeting.
    The three alcohol license categories would be restaurants, taverns and bars. Restaurants would operate as always and would be required to generate at least 50 percent of their gross receipts from food sales. Taverns would be required to generate at least 35 percent of their sales from food, but would restrict patronage to 18-and-up after 10 p.m. Bars would be 21-and-over at all times but would have no food percentage requirement.
    At the workshop, Manager Shane Haynes said the mayor, council and city staff will discuss how these proposed changes to the alcohol ordinance will affect other areas of the code. Specifically, they will address parking and zoning guidelines for the three separate categories, namely which zoning categories would be appropriate for each license category and how parking requirements will take into account large dance floors and open areas at alcohol-serving establishments.
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