Commissioners asked to consider poured liquor referendum

Published 9:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2024

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On Tuesday, several business owners asked the Board of Commissioners to consider allowing Troup County voters to decide on potentially allowing poured liquor sales in the unincorporated area of the county via referendum.

Currently, all three cities in Troup allow poured alcohol sales but only beer and wine are allowed in the county.

The contingent was led by Mike Young, owner of The Fields Golf Course. Young requested the change, saying it was not only good for the golf club but that it would help restaurants and events like weddings and concerts.

It’s not like people aren’t consuming hard liquor at these events. They bring their own, he said.

“It’s much safer for us to manage the alcohol than for the individual to bring out their own,” Young said.

“We had a bus from some club in Atlanta that came last Saturday. There were 90 guys there. They went through 19 handles of Tito’s vodka, six cases of grape juice, six cases of ginger ale, 14 half gallons grape juice in a day and that was them on the bus bringing it with them,” Young said.

“That’s revenue you don’t get and that I don’t get. They come in and then they leave,” he said.

Young simply asked the commissioners to consider placing it on the ballot to let the voters decide.

On behalf of Matt Livingston, owner of Captain’s at Highland Marina, Attorney Ben Wilcox also addressed the board asking for the referendum.

Wilcox said Captain’s was able to get a beer and wine license but as they have discovered, the losses in revenue due to not being able to sell mixed drinks are astronomical. He noted that seven out of 10 people think about what they are going to drink when deciding where to eat, according to the National Restaurant Association.

“If you’ve got seven out of 10 people focusing on that, if somewhere like Captain’s with the scenery being out on the dock, overlooking the lake, they may go back to town because they can have a Mojito or Bloody Mary with their brunch, but they can’t at Captain’s,” Wilcox said.

Similarly, Pete Patel, owner of Pyne Road Sports Bar, asked the commissioners to put the issue up to the voters.

“People are actually looking for liquor. We are a sports bar. We do have TVs and we have grilled food and other food items as well. But there’s a lot of people that do ask for liquor as well as compared to people wanting just beer,” Patel said.

Commissioner Lewis Davis confirmed with the owners that they are only asking for a referendum on poured liquor drinks. They aren’t wanting to open up a liquor store in the county, he said.

Elections Supervisor Andy Harper said that if the commissioners want to place the issue on the November ballot, they would need to hurry. He said he would need a resolution adopted by no later than July 29 to get it on the November ballot because it is required to be advertised 90 days ahead of the vote.

“This would be a county-wide ballot. It would be voted on by all citizens of Troup County,” Harper said.

No action was taken on the issue at Tuesday’s meeting.