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Posted: January 24, 2009 8:52 p.m.

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Liquor by the drink referendum to be held on March 17

On March 17, Social Circle residents will be able to vote up or down on the question of whether to allow the sales of liquor by the drink in restaurants.

The Social Circle City Council set the ballot referendum date at their January city council meeting.

The amendment was first proposed in August, but the council waited to give residents time to digest what a mixed drink amendment would mean for the community.

"Primarily, it’s an economic issue," said Social Circle Mayor Jim Burgess. "We’re trying to attract more upscale restaurants in the community." He said the city had been approached by several chain restaurants that had lost interest after learning no mixed drink sales were allowed.

"That’s one of their first questions," said City Manager Doug White. "They want to know is that something they can count on."

The question on the ballot will read "Shall the governing authority of the City of Social Circle be authorized to issue license to sell distilled spirits for beverage purposes by the drink, such sales to be for consumption only on the premises?"

The amendment is not designed to allow package stores, Burgess reiterated.

Currently, restaurants are allowed to serve beer and wine, and grocery and gas station stores can sell malt beverages. Should the amendment pass, the restaurants will still need to make more than 50 percent of their revenue from food sales. That ratio might go even higher since mixed drinks are more expensive than beer or wine, said City Attorney Joe Reitman.


In other city council business:

• The council approved the annexation of a total of 342 acres from Newton County, after a public hearing. The land, made up of four tracts, belongs to voluntary petitioners including the MAB Holding Company and Brad and Charles Bettis. The land was also zoned the land for Agricultural use, similar to the zoning the land previously had. This petition is the third annexation request received by the city in 2008, following a petition for 335 acres received in July and 225 acres in October. Earlier in 2008, the city voided a controversial 2006 annexation of 1,150 acres that brought a lawsuit from Newton County after it was discovered that it violated annexation ordinances.

• The qualifying fees set for the mayor’s office candidates will be $144, $72 for council candidates, and $18 for Board of Education candidates.

• The council approved a resolution to facilitate the Department of Community Affairs funds for the Blue Willow Village – the final step in a multi-year process. "This enables what we’ve already authorized with loans and all projects," said White.

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