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Drive-thru beer and wine fails to reach a vote
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An ordinance amendment to allow drive-thru sales of closed-container beer and wine in Statesboro failed to get a motion for final approval from City Council this week.

Tuesday's meeting was the third time the proposed change appeared on the council's agenda. The first was Feb. 18, when members tabled it for a work session. They then held a 15-minute work session at 8:30 a.m. March 4 and agreed that the amendment would be adopted only if approved on two readings, in keeping with the council's established practice for ordinance votes. At the regular meeting that followed at 9 a.m. that day, the council unanimously approved the first reading.

But when the second reading appeared on Tuesday evening's agenda, Councilman Travis Chance read an email from a Statesboro resident he did not name. The resident identified herself as a parent of two children and observed that thousands of parents visit here each year when their children consider Georgia Southern University.

"Allowing drive-thru sales is simply promoting alcohol sales," wrote the citizen, who said it would make Statesboro "look like the Wild West" and discourage parents from sending their children to live here.

"I do not know this scientifically, but it seems that if you're checking ID, it would be easier to spot a fake with the person standing in front of you and not in their car," Chance read from the email.

He had forwarded the email to other council members and said he was reading it to keep his word to the citizen.
When Mayor Jan Moore asked if council had a motion to approve a second reading of the amendment, which was Item 6 on the agenda, none of the members offered one.

"There is no motion? OK, we'll move to Item 7," Moore said.

Councilman Phil Boyum asked where this would leave the matter. Without the second reading, the ordinance had not been amended, City Attorney Alvin Leaphart confirmed. Councilman Will Britt then asked if it could be discussed later in the "other business" portion of the meeting, and Moore said council could do so.

More than an hour later, after zoning requests and the approved donation of retiring police dog Bruno to his handler, Cpl. Andrew Samples, the meeting reached the issues labeled "Other Business from City Council."

Then, after complex discussion, the council awarded a new, 120-day extension of its permission for L&D Produce to operate its stand on U.S. Highway 80, before returning at last to the beer and wine amendment.

Drive-thru, again

"Once again we have an ordinance in front of us that no one seems to be asking for and yet we have opposition to it," Britt said. "It seems like it's something that we could do. It seems like it may be a great idea."

Britt said city public safety officials told him they saw no difference for enforcement between having drive-thru sales and not having them. However, he also asserted that the citizen's letter had merits.

"In 27 states, it's not legal to buy drive-up alcohol. In 23 states it is; in 27 states it's not, so apparently certain governments have considered this not a good idea," Britt said.

He mentioned, as a possible compromise, a 6 p.m. halt to drive-thru sales. But council members, Britt added, had also heard complaints about the change from owners of existing convenience stores built without drive-up windows because drive-thru beer and wine was not legal.

Councilman John Riggs said he had heard objections much like those in the email Chance presented.

"And I haven't heard anything for it," Riggs said. "No one has said anything good about this idea."

Drive-thru beer and wine sales had been legal in Statesboro in the past, noted City Manager Frank Parker, who said this had been six or eight years ago at the most.

The online version of the Statesboro Code of Ordinances shows Section 6-91, which forbids drive-thru sales and defines them as "the sale of alcoholic beverages by any means that allows the customer to remain in his vehicle" with the adoption date Dec. 6, 2011. But what was adopted then was a general amendment of the alcoholic beverage ordinance surrounding the legalization of Sunday sales of package alcohol.

"I don't see that this particular item has generated much discussion at all, either way," Moore said, noting that no one for or against had bothered to appear in person.

The proposed change was not for a specific location but for future stores in general, Parker said.

"Well, that raises the question, how did it get on the agenda to begin with?" Moore said.

Parker said he put it there with the intent of removing some inappropriate wording in the ordinance.

"It's inappropriate only if you want drive-thru beer," Boyum commented. "Otherwise, it's perfectly fine."

Moore again asked for a motion on the ordinance revision. No council members spoke.

"There is no motion; therefore, there is no vote," Moore said.

A general overhaul of the alcoholic beverage ordinance will be considered in the next few months, city officials have said. At the previous meeting, when council approved a six-month moratorium on new licenses for the court-shuttered Platinum Lounge and Primetime Lounge locations, Leaphart said it would allow time for changes in the ordinance.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


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