Later this year, Dacula citizens may have the chance to decide whether to allow Sunday retail sales of alcohol. Voters may also get to choose whether to allow Sunday sales of liquor by the drink within the city limits.
Now that SB 10 has been signed into law, local governments statewide may hold referendums on whether or not to permit Sunday sales of alcohol in grocery and liquor stores.
Dacula Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said local retailers, such as the , could be at a disadvantage if county residents vote to allow Sunday sales and Dacula does not.
Restaurants within the city limits are already at a disadvantage when it comes to Sunday sales of liquor by the drink. While the county allows such sales, the City of Dacula prohibits them.
Wilbanks said he routinely deals with complaints from local restaurant owners regarding the city’s ordinance.
“I get told by all my restaurateurs that they have people every Sunday walking out of their restaurants because they can’t serve them a margarita or a mixed drink,” he said. “You step across the line into the county and you can do that and so people do.”
Since 2011 is an election year for the city, officials must soon decide whether to allow one or both measures to go before the voters in order to have adequate time to prepare the ballots.
Sue Robinson, one of the council members up for re-election this year, said she is in favor of holding the referendum.
“I recommend we put it on and let the people decide,” she said.
Robinson added it would be less expensive for the city to hold the referendum in conjunction with the November election instead of calling a special election in 2012.
Tim Montgomery, who is also up for election this year, said that while he believes letting the voters decide is the right thing to do, he cannot vote in favor of allowing the referendum to appear on the ballot.
“As a Baptist deacon, I don’t think I can cast a positive vote for a referendum for alcohol sales on Sunday,” he said.
Montgomery explained his decision was not a political stance, it was a matter of faith.
“We have articles of faith in our church,” he said. “When I became a deacon, I agreed to uphold them and I can’t vote in the affirmative on it.”
Mayor Wilbanks said he has discussed the matter with his , the new senior pastor at .
“He’s thinking about what the church is going to do,” Wilbanks said. “We typically are against the bad effects of alcohol as a Baptist Church.”
However, Wilbanks said his personal views are not at issue.
“I’m the mayor of them that drinks and them that don’t,” he said.
The city council may vote as early as next week on whether to allow the two issues to appear on the ballot.
“Frankly letting the people vote on it is probably the best thing we can do,” Wilbanks said.
The city council will meet in regular session next Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m. The council meets at , located at 442 Harbins Road in Dacula.