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Residents will get to vote on Sunday sales
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Voters in Dawsonville can decide this November whether they want to allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.

In a 4-0 vote Monday night, the city council approved holding a referendum on package sales for retailers.

If approved Nov. 8, the measure would allow stores in the city to sell from 12:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.

In addition, the council voted to let alcoholic beverages be manufactured on the grounds of city hall and the municipal complex, and to repeal any conflicting ordinances.

The council had previously agreed to lease space in city hall to a moonshine distillery. The business plans to open by October.

Monday night's vote on the Sunday sales referendum was the first time the measure garnered unanimous support. In May, the council split 3-2 on the issue.

Though not required, council members had indicated they wanted the decision to be unanimous.

Councilman Calvin Byrd, one of two members to previously vote no, said he changed his mind because of the hours limiting when alcohol could be sold.

"I just didn't want alcohol being sold during church," Byrd said. "So setting the time from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. was a compromise that made me feel much more comfortable."

Councilman Mike Sosebee and Mayor Joe Lane Cox, who votes only in the case of a tie, have both previously said they believe it should be up to residents if they want alcohol sold on Sundays.

"Myself, I don't drink, and I'll vote against it [on the referendum]. But I think we ought to give people the right to make that choice," Cox said last month.

Dawson County government officials have voiced general support for a similar referendum, though they may not hold a vote until 2012.

The county does not have an election scheduled this fall. Mike Berg, chairman of the county commission, has said a special election to vote for Sunday alcohol sales could cost the government $15,000.

"Putting it on the ballot during the regular primary election in August 2012 would save money," Berg said previously.

Unlike the county, the city has an election set for this fall.

On Nov. 8, two council seats and the mayor's post are up for election.

All incumbents have declared they will run again.

Two other area cities, Gainesville in Hall County and Cumming in Forsyth County, have indicated they may soon hold a similar referendum on Sunday alcohol sales.