“This is an issue we’ve been knocking around for about a year,” said Mayor J. Max Davis. “We have differences of opinions among those on the council as far as what would be the best course of action.”
Bars and entertainment establishments in the city stop serving alcohol at 2:55 a.m. and must have all patrons out of the building by 4 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, while Monday through Friday, pour times end at 3:55 a.m. and patrons must exit the building by 4:55 a.m.
Davis said the discussions of changing the current times spring from complaints of neighbors concerning “noise and ruckus” as well as public safety issues, including weekday partiers mixing with early morning commuter traffic.
“A lot of people filter in to Brookhaven to take advantage of later pour hours and of course, people coming to our city benefits our businesses and gives us a competitive advantage, but it is coming at the cost of some people quietly enjoying their property,” he said. “So the purpose of this forum is to hear resident and business owners’ ideas about how to best solve this problem.”
While Police Chief Gary Yandura said crimes, including theft and robberies, have increased yearly on Buford Highway, most residents spoke about noise issues rather than safety issues at the forum.
Brookhaven resident Rich Matthews, who said he lives close to Dresden Drive, said he would like to see businesses close earlier in the city because at times the lively nighttime noise has vibrated his house.
Still, most members of the public who spoke up at the forum were representatives of bars and entertainment establishments such as the Pink Pony and Pub 71.
Brett Moses, a city resident and employee at Pink Pony said everyone from business owners, to entertainers to taxi cab drivers benefit from the city’s late night hours and more businesses should monitor their own establishments and make sure they are not violating city ordinances.
“The few times we’ve ever needed the Brookhaven Police, they’ve been very professional and well-trained, but I feel that each business needs to have adequate security to stop drunk driving, crimes or broken ordinances from occurring,” he said.
Todd Lantier, chairman of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, said the city’s late closing times gave it a competitive advantage and earlier closing times would still cause issues.
“Whether we’re closing a bar at 12 a.m. or 4 a.m., we’re going to have public safety issues,” he said. “Just on the other side of 85 is unincorporated DeKalb and they are going to stay open until after 4 a.m. so we’re still going to get a lot of people driving through our city to get there.”
Propositions to resolve these issues included making all weekly opening and closing hours the same, copying Dunwoody or Chamblee’s pour and closing times or better regulating noise pollution by changing decibel level ordinances.
The next public forum will be May 28 at 7 p.m. at city hall, 4362 Peachtree Road. Until then, District 3 Councilman Joe Gebbia encouraged residents and business owners to send ideas and suggestions through the city’s website at www.brookhavenga.gov.