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Covington puts open consumption poll on November ballot

COVINGTON, Ga. - Voters in the city of Covington will have the chance to voice their opinions on whether or not open consumption of alcohol should be allowed during special events in the Covington Main Street district and Legion Field, thanks to a non-binding referendum that has been officially been added to the Nov. 5 ballot. 

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams was the only opposing vote Monday evening when the Covington City Council made the decision to put the referendum on the ballot. 

Councilman Josh McKelvey made sure to clarify that the referendum is simply a poll of the voters, and would not immediately enact an open consumption policy. To allow for open consumption on the Covington square, the city would have to obtain an agreement with Newton County, as the grassy area in the center of the square is county-owned property. 

He said if the voters agree to the referendum, it would put more pressure on the county to work with the city on passing the ordinance for the square. 

City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said open consumption is already allowed at Legion Field with a caterer. 

Councilman Susie Keck, who Skyped in for the meeting, said that the referendum would need to be clear that it would ask for open consumption without a caterer for a limited number of council-approved events. 

"Once you get the consensus from the public, then you change the ordinance," Knight said. "This is you asking the public what they think about this."