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City to reconsider referendum on Sunday sales
Voters could decide ballot question
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At least two Dawsonville officials are feeling heartburn over an item discussed at the May 2 city council meeting.


Mayor Joe Lane Cox said despite the council’s initial decision to refrain from letting residents vote on whether to allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays, the city could change course.


“I think maybe it’s something we better take another look at [next month],” Cox said Monday.


Mayor Pro-Tem James Grogan agreed.


“That meeting didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” Grogan said. “That’s four people deciding for the rest of the people ... this is something where I think they need the opportunity to decide for themselves.”


A bill signed last month by Gov. Nathan Deal allows communities to decide whether to put Sunday alcohol sales at stores before voters in a referendum.


At the May 2 city council meeting, all four councilmen said they would not be in favor of such a code change.


Both Cox and Grogan now say the city will reconsider the issue at a June 6 meeting.


Cox recalled a separate alcohol-related issue recently discussed by the council.


On April 4, the council voted to lease space in city hall to a legal distillery, the first of its kind in the area.


The establishment’s owner hopes to offer guided tours, but samples wouldn’t be available due to current state laws.


The mayor said some people have questioned the wisdom of putting a distillery in city hall, but not letting people vote on Sunday alcohol sales.


“They said, ‘It’s like you’re taking one step backwards,’” he said with a chuckle.


Other local government officials seem to agree.


Said County Commissioner Jimmy Hamby: “It’s my opinion that people should be allowed to vote on it. I’m not into telling people what to do and what not to do.”


On the county’s side, Hamby isn’t alone.


In interviews, fellow Commissioner Gary Pichon has also expressed an interest in allowing a vote on the matter.


“It just makes sense to me,” Hamby said. “If [the voters] want it, fine. If they don’t, fine. An issue this big, that’s going to affect the whole county ... people need to have a voice.”


The Sunday sales legislation passed this spring after five years of stalling amid pressure from religious groups and the threat of veto from then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.


Many restaurants and bars in Georgia already sell alcohol by the drink on Sunday.


The new law would let voters decide whether to allow package sales at grocery and convenience stores.


However, local governments must first agree to put the measure on the ballot.


Just two states, Connecticut and Indiana, still have statewide bans on Sunday alcohol sales.


Officials in neighboring Forsyth County, as well as the city of Cumming, have indicated they may hold a referendum on the matter in November.


The city of Gainesville in another border county, Hall, has done the same.