A majority of Statesboro voters who cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, 74%, said “yes” to the question of whether liquor stores can be permitted in the city limits. That result wasn’t known until after the polls closed at 7 p.m. and the votes were counted, but City Council had begun preparing for it Tuesday morning.
This was the question that appeared on the ballot: “Shall the issuance of licenses for the package sale of distilled spirits be approved?” That is the entire wording authorized in Georgia law. To this, 1,305 voters answered “yes,” while 457 checked “no.”
At the mayor and council’s 9 a.m. regular meeting, District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum had offered a motion to have City Attorney Cain Smith research possible language for an ordinance that the council will have to enact to actually allow liquor stores to operate in Statesboro.
“People are going to start clamoring and the quicker we can get the research on the legal aspects, the better,” Boyum said, “and I realize we’ll still have feedback from the community and we’re still going to have to make some decisions on … planning and zoning, but I think we need Cain to get the background information so we can have that presented at a work session.”
Boyum made that motion contingent on the referendum passing, and council members approved the motion on a 5-0 vote of their own.
During the discussion, Mayor Jonathan McCollar noted that he had promised to create a community committee to provide input on the ordinance.
“One thing that we did say when we brought this up was that we were going to get community input, so I don’t want us to derail anything that would allow us to have community stakeholders to work with us,” McCollar said.
But he added that he had no objection to the city attorney gathering information to help start the process.
Council members also briefly discussed when the ordinance could be approved and take effect. Nothing was decided about this. But Smith could present information at the next mayor and council work session, in two weeks, City Manager Charles Penny suggested.
Register and Brooklet
Two other Bulloch County cities held referendums on alcoholic beverage questions as part of Tuesday’s elections.
Register’s referendum on allowing liquor stores was identical to Statesboro’s. But 30 voters in Register checked “no” while only 22 chose “yes,” so Register’s council is not authorized to permit liquor stores.
Meanwhile, Brooklet had two different referendum questions. Brooklet residents approved allowing restaurants there to be licensed to serve distilled liquor-based drinks by 95 “yes” votes to 50 “no” votes. They also chose, by 91 “yes” votes to 64 “no” votes, to let licensed stores sell beer and wine on Sundays between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.