Provided they have 50 or more rooms, Statesboro hotels with package alcohol licenses may now sell bottles or cans of beer and wine for patrons to drink in their rooms or elsewhere in the hotel.
An ordinance amendment, previously given a first reading, was approved June 20 by City Council. Previously, the city’s Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance, as enacted by the council in 2016, allowed hotels to be licensed to sell beer and wine, but not for someone to drink in a room at the same hotel.
This was because licensing for package sales, such as of wine by the bottle or beer by the six-pack, was defined in terms of off-premises consumption. The relevant section of the city legal code states that the original containers “shall not open on the lot or premises of the location licensed for the sale thereof.”
Ironically, guests age 21 or older could buy beer or wine at another location with the same kind of license, such as a convenience store, and drink it legally in the same hotels. City Attorney Cain Smith and Mayor Jan Moore pointed this out during the June 6 council meeting, where the amendment was first presented.
The amendment adds that the beverage cannot be consumed on the premises “unless purchased at a hotel (as defined herein) with a Class B and/or C license, in which case opening and consumption of these beer and wine containers in the hotel’s guest rooms and common areas, excepting the parking lot, is permitted.”
Class B licenses are for selling beer, Class C for wine The ordinance already defined “hotel” as a lodging establishment with 50 or more rooms.
“There’s no sort of room for abuse, of a convenience store throwing a cot in the … corner of the store and being a hotel,” Smith remarked during the first reading.
He had explained the amendment as reflecting “a recent and increasing trend” for hotels to have pantries near their check-in desks with items, typically including beer and wine, for purchase by guests.
When the ordinance change was presented for a second reading and potential motion last week, one council member, Travis Chance from District 5, was absent, and all other motions passed 4-0. However, District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum abstained from the vote on the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance amendment affecting hotels. District 3 Councilman Jeff Yawn made the motion, which was seconded by District 4 Councilman John Riggs.
Immediately after the vote, Boyum noted that he had abstained, and Moore asked if he wanted to state his reason for the record.
“Because I’m the general manager of the SpringHill Suites in Statesboro and have a fiduciary responsibility for the running of the hotel,” Boyum said.
So the amendment change passed 3-0, with three votes being the minimum needed for adoption of an ordinance under the Statesboro City Charter.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.