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Council seeks citizen input on alcohol ordinance
Public hearing Tuesday
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    Statesboro City Council could move one step closer to finalizing the city’s new alcohol ordinance when it hosts an open public hearing today at City Hall.
    Councilmen and city staff will gather in the second floor council chambers at 5 p.m. to meet with local residents and discuss proposed amendments to Chapter 6 of the city municipal code regarding alcoholic beverages.
    The session, which comes two weeks after council approved a first reading of the revised code, is intended to solicit public input in reference to all proposed changes and offer council one last opportunity to pan out any still-existing issues with the ordinance.
    Council will vote on a second and final reading of the amendment during its next scheduled meeting Dec. 6. The changes would go into effect immediately thereafter.
    Officials have worked since August to rework the ordinance to address grievances expressed by a collection of local restaurant and bar owners who say the ordinance is overreaching, convoluted and contradictory.
    According to City Manager Frank Parker, the new product is simpler and corrects the issues that have drawn criticism.
    “It is a more understandable, less restrictive and more enforceable ordinance,” he said. “On the [existing] ordinance, there are limits on how you can serve, what kind of container you can use and other things. They have all been removed in the new one.”
    “It all boils down to: our policeman do not need to be babysitters worrying about how many people are on the dance floor or whether a drink is being served in a container that doesn’t have a handle,” he said. “They need to be out catching bad guys.”
    Councilmen say the new ordinance is a clear improvement, but not yet a finished product.
    “I do think it is a much cleaner ordinance than the old one,” Councilman Travis Chance said. “It takes out a lot of ambiguous language and overlapping rules.”
    “But I don’t know that I agree with [the ordinance] wholeheartedly,” he said. “I will take the time to sit down and draw out what I feel needs strengthened or taken out.”
    “I do believe it is definitely better than the old ordinance,” Councilman John Riggs said. “But most people have not yet given their input. I think there will still be plenty of modifications made before it’s over.”
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454

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