Porterdale OKs liquor ordinance

PORTERDALE - The City Council gave final approval to a distilled spirits ordinance Monday night that opens the way for sales of liquor by the drink in Porterdale.

The approval follows weeks of work on the ordinance, which was made possible by the passage of a referendum in a February special election.

City Attorney Tim Chambers said the ordinance is effective immediately and application forms for liquor licenses should be available at City Hall by the end of the week. The one-year licenses are sold on a calendar year and cost $2,500, although fees for licenses sold after June 30 will be prorated at 50 percent.

The ordinance allows for sales of distilled alcohol for on-premises consumption at restaurants, hotels and lounges, and follows the same hours as the beer and wine ordinance, including sales until 1:45 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings, with tables cleared by 2:15 a.m.

License-holders will be required to be residents of Newton, Rockdale, Morgan, Butts, Walton or Jasper counties. According to Chambers, the residency requirement is a matter of responsiveness.

"If there is a problem at the premises, the manager will be within a reasonable distance," Chambers said. "This was modeled on the Atlanta ordinance, that calls for its managers to live in what they define as the metropolitan Atlanta area."

Monday night's unanimous approval came after the third reading of the ordinance. Porterdale takes the ordinance reading requirement literally - meaning that Chambers read aloud the entire 24-page, single-spaced document during the meeting, an exercise that took 59 minutes.

Chambers said the purpose of ordinance readings is essentially to make sure the document is published. The decision to read ordinances aloud varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, he said.

"I know the federal government and state government have actual readings. Our ordinances, as they stand now, provide that there has to be three readings before they can be adopted," Chambers said. "The bad part is ... the first time they are read, we usually do it back-to-back for the first and second readings. That can get pretty tedious."

Chambers said the city is considering a change that would require just two readings before an ordinance can be approved.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@newtoncitizen.com.