published Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., voters may decide on Sunday alcohol sales

WHAT'S NEXT

The Fort Oglethorpe City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 500 City Hall Drive.

The City Council in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., will decide Monday whether to give voters a chance in November to allow Sunday sales of alcohol.

City Councilman Earl Gray has put two resolutions on the agenda. One would allow sale of beer, wine and liquor by the glass at restaurants from 12:30 p.m. to midnight. Another would let retailers sell beer and wine between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Last year, the council gave voters the chance to decide whether stores could sell beer and wine on Sunday, but the measure failed narrowly after churches rallied against it.

"This one's a little different from the first one," City Manager Ron Goulart said. "[Sales by the glass] has never been voted on."

Goulart said the council is revisiting the issue partly because the Catoosa County Commission recently decided to let voters decide in November whether Sunday sales should occur in the unincorporated areas of the county.

But most Catoosa restaurants and stores that sell alcohol are inside the city limits of Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold. For example, the Costco warehouse store, which has a large selection of wines and beer, is inside Fort Oglethorpe.

If Sunday sales are approved in the unincorporated area of the county but banned inside city limits, Goulart predicts restaurants and retailers will try to have boundaries redrawn.

"I think they would probably ask to be de-annexed," he said. "If you get new businesses that are going to come in, they're going to be looking at a more favorable [situation] in the county."

Fort Oglethorpe City Councilman Louis Hamm, who is a pastor at Salem Road Baptist Church, opposed Sunday sales in 2011 and said he will vote against the notion again on Monday night.

"I'm very much opposed," he said.

The city's voters already turned the idea down once, Hamm said.

"A majority of the people spoke out saying it's the Lord's day and we ought to observe that," he said. "Why give [drinkers] another day to get out in their cars, driving and having accidents hurting innocent people?"

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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