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Wanted: Your input on alcohol sales
City holds public hearing July 6 before deciding on referendum
W Parker
Frank Parker

City officials announced Thursday that the City of Statesboro will host public hearings next week to solicit input from the community in regard to referendums allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
    The hearings will be held during Statesboro City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting in City Hall’s council chambers Wednesday July 6, at 9 a.m.
    Interested citizens and, ultimately, members of council will determine there whether to permit a referendum, or two, appear on ballots during Statesboro’s November 8 general election.
    According to an issued public notice, Wednesday’s hearings will seek public comment concerning both the “sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays, and the sale of packaged alcohol on Sundays.”
    Since April, when Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill allowing communities to decide whether to permit sales of alcohol on Sundays, each of Statesboro’s councilmen have acknowledged that they would vote to allow a referendum.
    During Council’s June 21 meeting, for the first time in a public gathering of councilmen, City Manager Frank Parker brought forth the issue, asking city leaders how and if they would like to proceed with a vote.
    “I would like to get some direction from Council —because I have received many comments from the public and members of council — as to whether we need to bring before council at the next meeting a first reading or resolution in regard to Sunday alcohol sales,” he said. “If council chooses this issue to be one that should reach the ballot this November, it is an issue that the city needs to address in July.”
    Members of Council and Mayor Joe Brannen then advised Staff Attorney Michael Graves to collect information and prepare drafts of resolutions to be presented to city leaders in Wednesday’s meeting.  
    According to Graves, Council may use next week’s hearings merely to gather information about public sentiment, and choose to delay an official vote until its July 19 meeting.
    City officials will have ample time with which to finalize a vote, said Graves.
    A final decision will have to be rendered and submitted to the United States Department of Justice at least 30 days prior to the items appearing on November’s ballot, he said.
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454

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