Rather, the matter — which was not posted as an official item on the agenda — was debated roughly an hour before the regularly-scheduled council meeting during a work session gathering.
“We’re not deciding on anything final tonight,” said Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini. “But we are deciding on what will be included in the original version of the entertainment district ordinance.”
The proposal introduced by Santini would require the ordinance — which would allow for the carrying of open containers of alcohol in a designated downtown area — to be renewed on an annual basis.
His plan would allow open containers in that entertainment district on Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Councilman Cary Roth raised concerns about those times coinciding with other public events. If the entertainment district ordinance proposed by Santini was in effect this year, he said it would technically allow for open containers amidst the annual Christmas parade.
Councilman Calvin Cooley said he had similar concerns.
“Maybe there could be some kind of exceptions for the Christmas parade,” he said. “Because the streets are full, extremely full.”
Cartersville Assistant City Attorney Keith Lovell said a general provision could be included to give council members the ability to omit certain days from the proposed ordinance.
“I would imagine what we would want to have is a scenario where staff or the council or the city manager has the right to exclude when appropriate,” he said. “And then ya’ll would make the decision when it’s appropriate.”
As for the proposed boundaries of the entertainment district, a conceptual rendering displayed by Santini depicts a map spanning from Church Street to Main Street with borders along Erwin Street and Tennessee Street.
Santini said the map is modeled after the entertainment district in Marietta and excludes parking lots and alleys.
“This is private property, they should have a right to determine what they have on there and what they don’t,” he told the council. “The alcohol control board may change an element of [the map] and certainly during the two readings you can change elements of it.”
Lovell was quick to note that the Georgia Department of Transportation does have right of way along Main Street and Tennessee Street — which, in turn, could prevent individuals from crossing those roadways with open containers.
Under Santini’s proposal, the only permissible open containers would be 12-ounce, translucent plastic cups reading “downtown entertainment zone” and “$100 fine for littering this cup.” The cup would also display the hours that open containers are allowed, as well as an outline of the entertainment district itself.
“You literally have everything you need to know in the palm of your hand,” he said.
That proposal, however, drew some questions from Lovell. He asked Santini if that meant the City would would purchase the cups and sell them to establishments or "Are we just going to say ‘Here’s a generic design, you go and make it yourself?’”
Lovell said it’s more common for municipalities to opt for the former option — in turn, creating a new revenue source for the local government.
Almost immediately, Cartersville Planning and Development Director Randy Mannino requested that such a decision be left to the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority (DDA); Santini quickly seconded the idea.
Councilman Gary Fox, however, raised a different kind of concern about the cups.
“If you’re going to put all this printing on it, if it’s clear, you’re not going to be able to read it very well,” he said. “Particularly, the map.”
Santini said that element of the proposal can easily be altered.
“If the DDA is going to be the one doing it, then they can decide the color or if it’s clear,” he said.
The proposed ordinance would also allow downtown festival zones to prohibit alcohol.
“If there’s a concert downtown, somebody’s having an event at the pavilion down by the depot, if they don’t want to have alcohol there they ought to be something where they apply and say ‘We don’t want alcohol in this area,'" he said.
The proposal is tentatively scheduled to go before the City’s alcohol control board at a public meeting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9. From there, the ordinance would be on tap for a first reading before the city council on Dec. 17, with a second reading — and final council vote on the matter — on pace for a Jan. 7 public meeting.
“I know that there are some elements of this that some of you like and there’s probably some that you don’t,” Santini said. “But if everybody says the same thing— that there’s parts of it that you like and parts of it that you don’t like — if you’re getting some of what you want, we’re all kind of sharing this. This needs to be a collaborative document.”