, City Council passed an amendment clarifying extended selling hours, but not without some discussion.
Smyrna City Administrator Eric Taylor explained that the original amendment Council passed on July 16 that allowed bars and pubs that purchased a special permit to hold extended hours was being misinterpreted by some parties. Staff proposed that Council approve an amendment to clarify the ordinance.
“In summary one regular license allows selling Monday through Friday, which is actually Saturday morning until 2 a.m. and Saturday, which is actually Sunday morning until 2:55 a.m.,” he said. “A Sunday sales permit allowing selling on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. until 4 a.m. on Monday morning. And finally, a special late hours permit that allows selling from 2 a.m. till 4 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, which is actually Saturday morning.”
But before Council could officially vote, Ward 6 Representative Wade Lnenicka voiced his opposition to the amendment.
“The rush to get this done the last meeting resulted in us not following state law,” he said. “I don’t understand why we’re seeking to make Smyrna the most liberal, late hours drinking city in the metro area. I think that’s outside the Smyrna values. I don’t see that being a topic of conversation and wishes of residents that I meet and talk with on a regular basis. I’ve never had any of them ask me to do this. I think it’s just out of step. I think it’s going to create problems.”
Lnenicka noted that this amendment would work for an establishment like that is surrounded by commercial properties, but said he was concerned that some bars and pubs along South Cobb Drive near residential areas wouldn’t be able to responsibly hold extended hours.
“We’ve gotten numerous complaints, numerous police-involved calls,” he said. “In the past the Police Committee has even brought them in basically to read them the Riot Act because of the volume of complaints and number of police calls we’ve had. Keeping these places open till 4 a.m. is just going to exacerbate the problem.”
Mayor Max Bacon countered Lnenicka’s argument by saying that the extended hours permits are expensive and not all business owners would choose to purchase one.
“Yes, there are maybe six businesses that paid for extended hours of Sunday sales and along with their regular licenses. As a matter of fact we are the highest municipality as far as fees in the metro area. If you want to pay the piper you can stay open. Most folks don’t choose to stay open. If you do you have to pay your liquor license fee, your Sunday permit fee and your late hours fee, which is higher than the city of Atlanta.”
The amendment passed 3-2 with Lnenicka and Ward 5 Council Representative Susan Wilkinson voting in opposition. Ward 3 Council Representative Teri Anulewicz and Ward 4 Council Representative Corkey Welch were absent.