City council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of an ordinance to change the requirements at Monday’s council meeting. Council was set to take a vote last week but tabled the item instead because council members wanted to be able to assure churches already located downtown that the distance change would not affect them.
At Monday’s meeting, city spokesman James Drinkard confirmed “what we’re looking at does not affect any of our current churches.”
Last week, church representatives from Alpharetta First Baptist and Alpharetta Presbyterian, spoke in opposition of the change, saying it would not be good for the area surrounding their churches and the schools attached.
But the representatives were not present at Monday’s meeting.
One of those representatives, Jonathan Wilson, equipping pastor at the Baptist church, later told the Neighbor he discussed the issue with Mayor David Belle Isle and council members over the week and is “confident they understand our concerns about what could potentially be located directly across Academy Street from the entrance to our worship center and Alpharetta Christian Academy. I trust they will look out for our interests as future businesses apply for licenses.”
Wilson went onto say the church has been in favor of the downtown development plan from the beginning and even sold lots to the city in what is now Brooke Street Park.
“All we’ve been asking for during the process of changing the alcohol consumption ordinance is that city leaders would show consideration to our 100-plus year presence downtown as they make plans for the future,” he said. “We desire to protect the integrity and character of our surroundings, especially the three proposed buildings right across the street.”
Two residents, Alpharetta Business Association members Richard Debban and Brian Patton, were present at the meeting to speak in favor of the ordinance, saying it would be good for businesses.
According to city staff, the purpose of the ordinance is to encourage pedestrian-oriented design in the new downtown area, to encourage re-development and to encourage a broad variety of uses downtown.