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Council votes on Sunday alcohol sales, street renaming
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Dawsonville residents will be given an opportunity to vote on Sunday alcohol sales.

The Dawsonville City Council voted unanimously Monday night to amend the city's alcohol ordinance to allow for on-site sales of alcoholic drinks, including distilled spirits, by restaurants and hotels within the city limits on Sundays, 12:30 p.m - midnight.

It was the first of a two-step process.

Next, a referendum will be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot, and a majority of residents must vote in favor of Sunday alcohol sales for it to take effect.

In March 2012, voters in Dawson County approved the sales of distilled spirits on Sunday.

Also Monday night, the council approved renaming eight streets in the downtown area to honor racing pioneers over the strong objections of one council member.

Angie Smith objected to the city's process prior to the vote and said residents and business owners were left out.

"I am here to speak for the people of this city," Smith said. "They don't feel they've been given a fair opportunity to speak on these matters."

Renaming the city's streets was presented during the July city council meeting.

At the time, City Attorney Dana Miles informed the council a vote was needed before moving forward, Smith said.

"After that, it came out in the newspapers, and that's when my phone started ringing. . . (the newspaper stated) signs had already been ordered, and the vote was a formality," Smith said. "I take offense at that. There is nothing in this city government that should ever be taken as a formality. In this situation, the intentions were good, but the cart was put before the horse."

Smith noted the Dawson County Deputy Marshall's office sent letters dated June 21 to residents and business owners informing them of their new addresses.

"We were following protocol," said County Commission Chair Mike Berg. "We received a letter stating this is what had been done; therefore, we had to respond because of 911 regulations. In the future, we will wait until we see a vote."

Smith also stated the council should honor residents who built the city.

" . . . Names like McClure, Harben, Howard, Looper, Fouts, Taylor, West and Gilleland, just to name a few," she said. "These are the men and women who built this town; who built the buildings; who ran the stores . . . who forged the city of Dawsonville into a living, breathing community."

Smith made a motion to table renaming the streets until a pubic hearing could be held in September. Her motion was not supported.

Instead, a compromise suggested by Council Member Chris Gaines was approved.

"I do agree we also need to highlight the incredible accomplishments of those that built and have contributed so much to this city in other way," Gaines said. "That is why I offered my amendment to the approval to develop comprehensive plans to include plans such as plaques and other street names of those individuals as we move forward."

Plaques will be placed on the city's historic buildings naming the property owners and highlighting the buildings' history.

Gaines and Mayor James Grogan defended the city's process.

"This is part of the plan and many open conversations have been had including an open town hall meeting allowing opportunity for people to speak," Gaines said. "I have not received any negative comments from my constituents."

Grogan said one only person visited his office to discuss the street renaming.

"It was an individual involved in racing that I forgot about," Grogan said. "It was somebody we should consider . . . (we should) find a place to put them in the near future. That's the only negative call I've had."

Grogan said the idea behind the renaming is to create a reason for people to stop rather than pass through the city.

"They'll want to have their picture made in front of the Bill Elliott sign," he said. "This was not done in secret. It's been talked about for years . . . I had it on my mayor's report back in April."

Council Member Mike Sosebee said plaques on buildings are not going to attract people to the city.

"It's fine if you want to put Edward Looper's name on a building," he said. "But that ain't going to attract people . . . ".

Sosebee and Gaines voted to approve the street renaming, including the amendment to add plaques to historic buildings, with Smith opposing. Council Member Jason Power was absent.

In other business, the city council approved:

An amendment to the utilities ordinance related to the regulation of high strength wastewater, surcharges for high strength wastewater and testing and measurement of wastewater. Grogan stated the ordinance only affects industrial users such as Gold Creek Foods, the jail, and Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery;

Recognizing Sept. 2-6 as National Payroll Week;

Purging documents from fiscal year 2007;

Adoption of the Dawson County pre-disaster hazard mitigation plan;

Tabling an annexation request from Nancy D. Twyman as trustee for Hi-5 Consulting 401K Plan. Dawson County objected to the annexation on several grounds including a violation of Georgia law OCGA 36-66-4(a)(1) that would create an unincorporated island. "There is a possibility that in September this would be re-introduced as a 60-percent annexation," Grogan said. "We can bring him in along with another piece of property." Grogan said the city will send out a letter to two land owners to see if there is any objection. "I seriously doubt there will be. They can be brought in under the 60-percent parcel rule;"

Separately, the city held the first reading of two annexation requests from Karen McCord related to a 24.95-acre parcel located at 796 Hwy. 53 East, Dawsonville, and a 2.64-acre parcel at 2120 Perimeter Road. County zoning on both parcels is RSR (Residential Sub-Rural).