Fayetteville City Council approves rules for package stores and distilleries

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Liquor bottles on package store shelves. Photo/Shutterstock.
Liquor bottles on package store shelves. Photo/Shutterstock.

Ready for a distillery in Fayetteville? Courtesy of a majority “Yes” referendum Nov. 2 and a new city ordinance approved Nov. 18, Fayetteville city government is not only willing but ready to receive unlimited applications for previously forbidden liquor stores inside the city limits.

Until now, Peachtree City was the only place in Fayette County that permitted the sale of hard liquor through package stores, and only a limited number of them, based on city population.

That changed when Fayetteville voters Nov. 2 approved package stores and distilleries to sell their wares, subject to council rules.

The adopted rules set the minimum store size at 5,000 square feet containing a minimum of a half-miillion dollars worth of inventory, except in the Main Street District, which could be smaller.

Significantly, the council decided to let the free market decide how many package stores will be allowed in the city. “By not limiting the total number of permitted licenses, the City will ensure a level playing field for potential operators, and will allow market competition to determine which businesses are successful,” city councilmen were told.

Based on the council minutes, here’s the discussion from the Nov. 18 meeting:

Mayor Johnson called Consider Ordinance #0-26-21 — To amend Chapter 10 Alcoholic Beverages to allow for package stores, distilleries, and administrative clarifications.

Director of Economic Development Brian Wismer stated earlier this month, voters approved a Referendum to allow the City to offer licenses for the package sales of distilled spirits. This ordinance amendment codifies that process, along with a license to manufacture distilled spirits, and other items that staff identified as needing updates or clarifications.

He summarized the ordinance by saying licenses for package sales will be permitted in commercial or mixed-use zones, subject to state guidelines for distances between package stores, churches and schools, and shall occupy a minimum of 5,000 square feet of floor area and $500,000 of inventory. Restrictions are added that will prohibit package stores from offering services such as check cashing, wire transfers/money orders, and lottery sales.

By not limiting the total number of permitted licenses, the City will ensure a level playing field for potential operators, and will allow market competition to determine which businesses are successful. Essential factors like customer service, cleanliness, and overall presentation will be much more important in an open market environment.

Other items in the amendment include:

• Clarification on handling special event permits

• Allowing commercial licenses for alcoholic beverages to be included in gift basket sales

• Allowing pending licenses for up to 12 months prior to a Certificate of Occupancy

• Updates to obsolete language and citations

• Updates to excise tax language

Mr. Wismer added we are deleting the wording in Sec.10-34, b-7 in Exhibit A which discusses fingerprinting, because fingerprinting is no longer handled by our police department. Staff recommends approval of the amendments as presented.

Public comments were heard by Mr. Michael Mumper, representing Georgia Alcohol Policy Alliance.

He said he does not have a problem with the ordinance but reminded us that this is a public health issue. He asked if the Alcohol Industry had input in drafting the ordinance and he asked if we can table this ordinance to allow our Public Health division to make comments. He added we should allow supply and demand to drive the number of stores in Fayetteville.

Mr. Wismer answered that the Alcohol Industry did not help to draft this ordinance.

Mayor Johnson answered, we do not need to allow our Public Health division to make comments on this ordinance because the voters had their say by voting on the referendum.

Resident Steve Gulas asked for clarification on the distance requirements from churches and schools.

Resident Matthew Johnson asked if the building can be leased or owned.

Mr. Wismer answered that there is no stipulation there.

Resident Lindsey Cruel asked for clarification on how much inventory the store must have and added that $500,000 in inventory will not allow “Mom & Pop” stores to thrive. Mr. Wismer said stores located in the Main Street District would be the exception and could be smaller.

A question was asked if we would raise the square feet limit from 5,000 to 10,000 sq.ft. and from $500,000 in inventory to $1 million in inventory.

Mr. Wismer stated after researching other locations and their stipulations on size and inventory, this is what we came up with.

Hoffman moved to approve Ordinance #0-26-21 — To amend Chapter 10 Alcoholic Beverages to allow for package stores, distilleries, and administrative clarifications with the condition to remove Sec. 10-34, b-7 as discussed. Stacy seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

[According to the minutes, officials present at the meeting were Mayor Ed Johnson; council members Darryl Langford, Joe Clark, Paul Oddo, Rich Hoffman, and Scott Stacy. City Attorney present was Priya Patel. Staff members present included City Manager Ray Gibson, City Clerk Anne Barksdale, Director of Economic and Community Development David Rast and Director of Economic Development Brian Wismer.]

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