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Posted: April 24, 2009 12:01 a.m.

City council appoints new member

New liquor by the drink ordinance approved

Submitted Photo/

David Keener

Social Circle City Council appointed its newest member on Tuesday to fill the vacancy left by the sudden passing of council member David Terry.

The meeting opened with a moment of silence for Terry, 77, who passed away April 5.

David Keener, 55, a recently retired manager with BellSouth and Terry’s son-in-law, was appointed by a unanimous vote to fill the eight months remaining in Terry’s term. Had there been more than half a term left, there would have been a special election, said Mayor Jim Burgess.

"I’ll do my best," Keener said, adding that he knew he had big shoes to fill.

Burgess said Terry had actually expressed a desire that, should anything happen to him, he’d like Keener complete his term.

"He wanted to cover all the bases," said Terry’s daughter, Penny Keener.

Though he has no previous experience in public office, Keener said he did have managerial experience.

"I consider myself a good listener and I think that’s an important part of being a good council person," he said.

Keener was to be sworn in later and was not able to vote in the night’s meeting but sat in Terry’s seat and listened as the council took up drafts of the rules for regulating the sales of liquor by the drink, which was passed by a referendum in March.

Social Circle is modeling its ordinances after Madison’s recently revised code, along with portions from the city of Conyers, according to City Attorney Joe Reitman.

Restaurants wanting to serve liquor by the drink would be required to apply for a license every year, for a cost of approximately $2,500, and each employee serving spirits would be required to obtain a permit as well, for a $20 fee, and undergo a background check and training within 30 days of hiring. Restaurants can already apply for a license to
serve beer and wine.

The business would also be required to have at least 60 percent of its gross sales from food, be located not within 100 yards of an institution such as a school or church and operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday sales are still prohibited.

"This is to enhance fine dining in Social Circle," explained Reitman. "No nightclubs, no bars, no juke joints."

There were some questions from the audience about off-premise licenses for events, which are regulated by state law, said Reitman, and whether a caterer would need to operate out of Social Circle or if out-of-town companies could be allowed to serve at private events. Reitman said there would need to be more research into this area, but that the council could always amend and revisit the ordinance in the future.

The ordinance and proposed changes were passed in a vote of 3-1, with Council member Angela Porter dissenting.

She said she felt there were too many unresolved issues with the ordinance and that the council should
have revisited it.

"I don’t think the citizens had a clear picture of what it was," she said, especially with all the changes discussed.

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