Members of the Emerson City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a new alcohol permit for LakePoint Sporting Community.
Emerson City Manager Kevin McBurnett began the meeting by reading a letter from LakePoint CEO Mark O’Brien from last July.
“He respectively requests that we do not require the requirement of two officers whenever there’s alcohol, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell,” he told the council. “He makes a statement that the $30 an hour for the dedicated officer is a burden upon the business.”
McBurnett then produced an August memo from Emerson Police Chief Kyle Teems, indicating the applicant met all the requirements of a recently amended alcohol ordinance except one.
“Previously, our ordinance stated that only the owner of a business could apply for an alcohol license and we had to clarify some language there for corporations and LLCs,” McBurnett said. “So that has been taken care of.”
Representing LakePoint at the meeting was Greg Gore.
“LakePoint Sports has had no incidents regarding the serving of malt beverages onsite since it’s inception and an off-duty police officer will always be onsite during event operating hours,” he said. “That is a requirement for LakePoint sporting events as a whole, not just in lieu of actually selling malt beverages or wine.”
Those who purchase alcoholic beverages at LakePoint, he said, are given wrist bands and limited to three drinks.
Gore described to the council why he thought maintaining two police officers onsite was too much of a “financial heavy burden” for the company.
“Currently, in our 2019 model, the officer labor charge looked about 10% from the actual gross sales,” he said. “Which is pretty heavy, with additional labor costs of the business to make that happen.”
Council members agreed to waive the requirement for an additional police officer. However, McBurnett noted that if LakePoint accumulates any alcohol ordinance violations, the council does have the ability to impose sanctions or additional requirements.
“If there became an obvious problem, it wouldn’t take very long for it to become an obvious call,” Emerson Mayor Al Pallone said. “We can make that as a condition, and say ‘OK, you’re not incident-free and in order to keep it, you’ve got to have a second police officer.’”
Members of the council also approved a conditional alcohol permit for the QuikTrip in construction off Old Allatoona Road.
“In our amendment to our ordinance, we put in there for the ability to allow a premise to be able to come forward and obtain a license before it meets all the requirements of the ordinance,” McBurnett said. “Such is the case here — without the store being built, we do not have the ability to view the store and make sure that the storage is in place, to make sure the coolers are in place.”
He said the conditional license from the City would allow the applicant to move forward with plans to obtain a State alcohol license as the project nears completion.
“The applicant turned in everything and has been approved by the police department,” McBurnett told council members. “We see no reason why you wouldn’t approve this application.”
The convenience store/gas station is on track to open next month.
McBurnett concluded the meeting by polling council members on their thoughts on potentially hosting more public hearings via videoconferencing services.
“We’re trying to keep things spaced out, but we still have a lot in the works right now,” McBurnett said.
Although there was no official vote taken on the item, the consensus was that the council had no objections.
Councilman Donnie Bagwell said that’s a sound idea, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“I know there’s been a couple of business trips that I’ve had to be on,” he said. “That’s three meetings I missed.”
Pallone said there’s another reason why the option of videoconferencing would benefit the local government.
“It would give us a lot better odds of always getting a quorum, too,” he said.