Council members held a lengthy discussion on whether an alcohol license should be issued to Taste & See Barbeque located at 529 Almond St. In the end, council members voted 3-2 in favor of issuing the license with Councilmen Rick Prince and Joel Seymour voting against the measure.
The discussion started with City Manager Lanier Dunn stating alcohol licenses were a privilege permit, meaning it was not guaranteed. Dunn went on to say the ordinance also stated the permit “shall” be granted if conditions were met.
The city and police department recommended denial of the permit.
Dunn said the recommendation for denial was not due to the applicant but rather the location, which does qualify as a condition for denial. Dunn said the recommendation was due to traffic congestion and suitability to the surrounding neighborhood.
Dunn also said some improvement had been made to the congestion issue since the city implemented no parking zones on streets near the business but that large crowds still posed a problem.
Dunn said the recommendation was for denial at that location but the owner could be approved should he choose another location. Dunn said this was the only license holder which was not in the central business district.
Councilman Butler asked if there had been any arrests at the location. Police Chief Mark Welsh said there had been a number of arrests for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and fighting as well as other offenses. Welsh also said there had been shootings around the business. According to Welsh, the crowd around the business grows to between 100 and 200 people on a regular basis.
Welsh said the department had attempted to work with the business to remedy some of the problems but that the efforts had not been successful. He did say the business owner had been very cooperative in the efforts.
Butler attempted to recommend a conditional license until additional information could be obtained but Dunn told him there were no provisions for such a license. Butler then made a motion to approve the license request.
City Attorney Steve Jenkins plans to meet with Dunn on possible updates to the city’s alcohol ordinance. Jenkins said changes, if any, would be completed within the next month.
Council members set qualifying fees for the 2017 municipal elections. Mayor Larry Guest, Ward 1 Councilman Carey Butler, Ward 4 Councilman Rick Prince and Ward 5 Councilman Joel Seymour’s seats will be on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election. The qualifying fee for mayor was set at $464.61 and the qualifying fee for council seats was set at $374.61.
Councilman Bobby Hunt suggested as a remedy for the police department’s high turnover rate that the city consider beginning a program where officers were allowed to take their vehicles home with them.
Dunn said the department does not currently have enough vehicles to implement such a program but could consider it once more vehicles were added. Dunn said the city might start with officers who live within the city limits.
Hunt urged Dunn to consider the program on a larger scale, saying limiting it to within the city limits would not likely make a big difference in the turnover problem.
Council members also took care of housekeeping duties by selecting a mayor pro tempore, city attorney and municipal court judge. Councilman Bobby Hunt was elected unanimously as the mayor pro tempore for the city of Elberton for 2017. Attorney Steve Jenkins was reappointed as city attorney for the city of Elberton for 2017 and Robert Johnson was also reappointed as municipal court judge.