published Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Trenton amends beer, wine ordinance

By Mike Chambers/Correspondent

After months of controversy, Trenton city commissioners have voted to amend a beer and wine ordinance to make it more to the liking of community religious leaders.

The original ordinance was criticized for not including a 300-foot buffer between area churches and establishments that serve beer and wine.

Other area cities, such as LaFayette, Ga., included such restrictions in their beer and wine ordinances.

Danny Hall, of the Trenton Ministry Center, presented a letter to commissioners from four city churches requesting the change.

"Although there is no state mandate distance requirement for churches, we, the undersigned, respectfully request that you join with many other Georgia cities by placing a requirement of a hundred yards between the property of an establishment serving alcohol," the letter read.

It was signed by Donald Walker of Trenton Church of Christ, David Smith of Trenton Ministry Center, Billy Walker of Calvary Baptist and Reece Fallscett of Trenton United Methodist.

Commissioner Greg Houts made the motion to amend, seconded by Commissioner Tommy Lawson. The motion passed with the support of Mayor Barton Harris. Commissioners Sandra Grey and Chuck Cannon were absent from the meeting.

During the meeting, Lawson made it a point to say that he, Houts and Harris had told Grey and Cannon of the proposed amendment.

"We contacted them, even though they couldn't be here, and they do support it, and I just want to make that clear that we're not going behind their back to do it," Lawson said.

Opponents of the original ordinance were pleased by the change.

"A little time has gone by, I think they have had time to think this over, some more people have come to them and told them their views, and I think they've been enlightened by a lot of things," Hall said.

"I think they all agree it's something that should have been done before. ... They did the right thing," he said.

Harris, who voted for the original ordinance, agreed.

"I think that's kind of the way we want to go," he said. "That's what I wanted to do originally. I just think it's better for the community."

However, the mayor said he has been advised by the city attorney that any establishment that applied for a license under the original ordinance potentially could challenge the new amendment.

"We've had three [establishments] pick up applications," Harris said, but there is only one that could potentially file under the [original] 300-foot rule.

The mayor declined to identify that establishment.

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