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Alcohol ordinance stirs public reaction on both sides
by Caroline Young
May 30, 2012 12:25 PM | 1204 views | 3 3 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglasville residents passionately spoke on both sides of the issue last week before the city council rejected a mayoral veto of an ordinance to allow later alcohol pouring times on the weekends.

The ordinance amended the city code’s regulations on alcohol pouring hours at all licensed establishments — including extending hours on Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Following this action, all restaurants in Douglasville can open for the extended hours immediately.

Supporters said it will increase Douglasville’s cultural vibrancy and help businesses to flourish.

“Let us vote,” said Douglasville resident Richard Segal, who called Mayor Harvey Persons’ veto “political posturing.”

Segal later referred to the number of hours when alcohol is already legally poured.

“Some would have you believe that these three hours that were vetoed are the difference between heaven and hell,” Segal said.

“Where is the public safety outcry for the other 128 hours?”

And Neil Jenkins, owner of the Irish Bred Pub in downtown Douglasville, said the extended hours will enable all Douglasville restaurants to compete with surrounding counties who already have longer pouring hours.

“The city is restrictive by having to close at midnight on Saturday,” Jenkins said.

On the other hand, opponents of the override said they viewed the extended pouring hours as a community hindrance.

Douglasville resident the Rev. John Pennington, pastor of Douglasville First Baptist Church, said he is afraid families will start to leave the city if ordinances like these continued to be relaxed by the council.

“People did not come here for drinking establishments. They came here because they wanted a good safe place and a family atmosphere,” he said. “They were here before the businesses came, and the kind of people that will be drawn in here are not going to be the kind of people that will make this a safe place to live.”

And Councilman Dennis McLain said he fears an increase in alcohol-related wrecks as a result of the extended hours.

“Any time you extend drinking hours after midnight, you’re probably not doing the community a good service — nothing good happens after midnight,” said McLain, who opposed the extended pouring hours from the start.

“The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department reported that we have the highest DUI arrest in any jurisdiction in the Atlanta area,” he said.

“And I can tell you these places serving at 2 a.m. don’t whip around and see who’s intoxicated and start calling cabs.”

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