Ellijay council OKs special event permits, no motion on open containers
Ellijay City Council members approved an ordinance that will change how alcohol can be sold at certain special events during a Sept. 19 meeting, while no motion was taken on another ordinance that designates where open containers will be allowed on the downtown boardwalk.
Open containers delayed
Prior to the scheduled second reading of the boardwalk open container ordinance, much discussion went into limiting the area where open containers can be carried along the almost 400-foot wooden boardwalk.
“I think there’s a consensus of us that wants to limit it from 28 Main over to River Street,” said council member David Westmoreland. “Instead of the whole boardwalk, I think it would be better if we condensed it down for liability purposes.”
Another proposal was to only allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed in front of businesses licensed to serve them.
“My suggestion would be just in front of the businesses that are serving, rather than anywhere else, even to 28 Main because they don’t serve alcohol at this point,” commented council member Lynelle Stewart.
Council member Katie Lancey said that would defeat the purpose of allowing open containers on the boardwalk in the first place.
“The purpose (of the ordinance) is so people can walk up and down the boardwalk with a cup,” Lancey said.
Mayor Al Hoyle noted that signage would need to be put up notifying patrons of the open container limits.
“All I’m looking for is that we know what exact changes (need to be made) and are we in agreement as a voting body,” said Hoyle. “If we have the consensus of the full group before we go back to committee ... we will come back next month with a passable ordinance.”
After a suggestion from Westmoreland and discussion of people possibly bringing outside alcoholic beverages with them onto the boardwalk, Hoyle said a change will be made to the ordinance to include “except from alcoholic beverage licensed businesses” in reference to where open containers can originate.
No action was taken on the specific area in which the beverages can be consumed on the boardwalk.
The ordinance must be read again after changes to its wording are made. It wasn’t clear if that will have to wait until next month’s council meeting or if the clarified ordinance can be voted on at a special called meeting later this week.
“We have the Apple Festival coming up, so I would think the merchants would want to have this resolved one way or another before then,” said Lancey. “The purpose of the ordinance is to allow (open containers on the boardwalk). If you have any reservations about allowing it, that’s the way the vote will go. We need to figure out how to word it, up or down, then let’s vote (on) it.”
DDA to approve
event alcohol sales
An ordinance that will allow the Downtown Development Authority to approve or deny vendors to sell alcohol at special events presented under the DDA banner passed without objection.
The city will now issue similar special use permits directly to the DDA, confirmed Hoyle.
“Each event will be voted on at a regular city council meeting. There will still have to be distance requirements, so (some events) may not apply,” Hoyle added. “What brought it up was the farm wineries. They’re having events like the wine and jazz festival in Blue Ridge all over, but the city did not have an ordinance that allowed that. This puts one in place.”
Bobby McNeill, owner of Talking Rock winery and vineyard Chateau Meichtry, echoed the need for alcohol sale permitting at special events.
“Our community is starved for this type of thing. In the last two years, we’ve had so many people come in that say, ‘I’m staying in Blue Ridge, but I wish I was staying in Ellijay. I’m coming to Ellijay and going downtown in Ellijay,”’ said McNeill. “Whether it’s the boardwalk or special events or the wineries drawing folks in, it’s a huge win for Gilmer County and downtown Ellijay.”
In other news ...
﹣ An alcohol excise tax for wholesale dealers of malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits within the city limits was approved in the amounts of 22 cents per liter of wine and distilled spirits, 5 cents per 12 ounces of malt beverages sold in “bottles, cans or other containers except barrel or bulk containers” and a $6 tax on large containers containing “not more than 15-and-a-half gallons.”
﹣ An application to appoint Tom Cox as a new member of the Historic Preservation Commission was approved.
﹣ An annual resolution to adopt the updated Community Work Program for Ellijay was approved.