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Posted: March 20, 2009 12:00 a.m.

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Social Circle OKs liquor by the drink

Social Circle voters approved, by a large majority, an amendment to allow the sales of mixed alcoholic drinks at restaurants in a special referendum Tuesday.

Elections Supervisor Susan Roper reported 180 votes for the amendment and 104 votes against the amendment, or a margin of 26 percent. This meant about 12 percent of active, registered voters turned out for the referendum — a typical turnout for a special vote.

"Normally in an off election, we don’t have as large a turnout," said Mayor Jim Burgess. "That can work for or against you. That’s fairly typical."

Burgess expressed support of the vote’s result. "I was pleased with the outcome of the vote," he said. "Again, it shows, in terms of that sample, the community is strongly in support of this as a vehicle to help us get more upscale restaurants and make us competitive with other communities that have authorized the sale of alcohol, such as Covington, and the most recent one would be Loganville... I think this brings us in line with other progressive communities that are trying to enhance their overall economic futures."

Restaurants can already apply for license to sell beer and wine. The amendment allows the sale of individual mixed alcoholic drinks to be consumed on the premises. The amendment is not designed to allow package stores and bars, and restaurants will have to have sales of alcohol be less than a certain percentage of total sale volume.

Supporters argue that the amendment will help to attract larger chain restaurants or upscale restaurants to Social Circle.

The next step is for the city council to set up an application and background check procedure for licenses to serve liquor by the drink.

"The next step is the adoption of the implementing ordinance," Burgess said. "The police department will have to do background checks on the business or the servers — we’re not sure at this point. We’ve got a lot to learn in terms of implementation." He said the council would look at other cities that had implemented liquor by the drink licenses, such as Covington and Loganville.

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