The referendums would permit Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages by the drink with the second measure allowing Bartow County to authorize the issue of licenses to sell distilled spirits by the drink for consumption on the business’s premises.
“The commissioner has called these questions for economic development purposes,” County Administrator Peter Olson said. “We have three interstate exits that are largely unincorporated areas, and no national chain restaurant or hotel with dining will locate in an area that does not allow distilled spirits by the drink. Restaurants like LongHorn, Outback, Olive Garden, etc. will not locate in such areas simply because liquor is very profitable for restaurants. If we are ever to see those types of restaurants in the unincorporated areas, we have to have liquor by the drink.”
Although the measure may be placed on either the general primary or general election ballot, the number of races on May 20 seemed an opportune time for adding the alcohol sales questions.
“... It seemed like a good time to put this question to the most voters,” Olson said. “The comments we have received have been positive, from business owners and developers. Even folks who don’t drink enjoy the food at Longhorn’s and Chili’s.”
Should the referendums pass, no bars will be permitted.
“I would like to add this would not permit bars, meaning places that don’t make at least 50 percent of their revenue from food sales. A restaurant can have a bar area, of course, like the chains mentioned previously, but under the state law we are bound by, a pure bar would not be allowed,” Olson said.
In November, voters in the city of White passed package sales and sales by the drink. Taylorsville City Council in December vetoed a measure that would have allowed alcohol sales in the city.
Euharlee approved by-the-drink sales on Sunday in 2010 and Sunday alcohol sales in 2012. Likewise, Emerson residents in 2012 passed Sunday sales by the drink and Sunday package sales. Cartersville and Kingston passed similar measures in 2011.
The two measures will apply in unincorporated areas only. Packages sales are not up for vote, and could only be placed on the ballot through a petition signed by 35 percent of active voters.
“The law leaves the decision to the voters, but the same questions have passed in several local municipalities in the last several years by comfortable margins. The questions would authorize liquor sales for consumption on the premises on Monday to Saturday and on Sunday, just as is in effect in Cartersville,” Olson said.
Visit the Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office’s website at www.bartowga.org for a full sample ballot.