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Grayson Could Vote on Getting a Package Store in the City

A group of citizens has launched a petition drive to have the city put the issue on the November ballot. Loganville is also moving forward with alcohol sales initiatives.

After waiting until 2008 before allowing the pouring of alcohol by the drink in , the city took the initiative early this time around.

Monday, Loganville became the first city in metro Atlanta to put the issue of Sunday retail sales of malt beverages on the ballot in November - even before Gov. Nathan Deal signed the measure.

Council members voted 5-1 to call for a referendum, contingent on it being signed into law.

Under a separate resolution, and also by a vote of 5-1, the city called for a referendum on allowing restaurants to serve liquor by the drink on Sundays. Since that is already allowed under state law, the governor's signature is not needed.

The dissenting vote on both resolutions was Councilman Jerry Price, who said when first elected he'd made a promise to his constituents to never vote in favor of any alcohol ordinance. He said it was simply a matter of principle - he would not break a promise.

While Loganville might have been quick to take advantage of the opportunity, is much slower on the uptake. However, come November the city could be going one step further. If a group of citizens get their way, Grayson residents could be voting on the city getting its first package store.

Michelle Couch, former president of the , is leading a group of citizens in a petition drive calling for a referendum on allowing a package store inside the Grayson city limits.

“It’s going very well. We need 560 signatures and we already have 350,” Couch said. “We have a team of about 15 of us going door to door in the city in three shifts.”

Couch said although some people declined to sign the petition, nobody had been “ugly” about it. She said the package store, however, is a completely separate issue from Sunday retail sales of alcohol.

“In fact, the package store industry did not lobby for Sunday sales – it was the convenience and grocery stores that were down at the Capitol lobbying because they’re already open on a Sunday,” Couch said. “Sunday is the only day off for package stores, which are usually small businesses, so traditionally most don’t support the Sunday retail sales measure.”

Couch stressed the type of package store they are seeking to bring to the city would be an upscale, tasteful establishment in keeping with Grayson’s “stringent architectural standards.”

Grayson Mayor Jim Hinkle said he was aware of the petition drive, but since no petition has been presented to him yet he had no comment on it. He said with regard to the Sunday retail sales issue, there was still plenty of time.

“We’ve got until September or so, whenever they prepare the ballots, so there’s no rush,” he said.

Grayson already allows restaurants to serve alcohol on Sundays, which was implemented at the same time as liquor-by-the-drink following a referendum in 2006.

At that time, Grayson required a petition be handed to the city before calling for a vote on the referendum. It is unclear whether the same procedure would be applied before voting to put Sunday retail sales on the ballot. City Administrator Laura Paul-Cone said the matter has not even been discussed at this point.

Michelle Couch April 23, 2011 at 12:35 AM
Thanks for a great article on this issue Sharon. As always, you have done an outstanding job of presenting the matter exactly as it is. I look forward to everything that the new Loganville-Grayson Patch will bring to the community, and having you more involved in Grayson now!

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