published Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Alcohol question won't be on ballot in Fort Oglethorpe

Poll
Should stores be permitted to sell alcohol on Sundays?

Fort Oglethorpe residents will not have the opportunity to vote on Sunday alcohol sales in November.

The Fort Oglethorpe City Council voted 3-2 Monday against two resolutions that would have allowed residents the chance to vote on by-the-glass alcohol sales at restaurants between 12:30 p.m. and midnight, and retail alcohol sales from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Fort Oglethorpe residents voted in November 2011 against allowing retail sales of beer and wine on Sundays, but never have voted on by-the-glass sales, according to Councilman Earl Gray, who proposed the resolutions.

The Catoosa County Commission voted last week to put three referendums on the ballot in November -- by-the-glass alcohol sales in the unincorporated areas of the county and outside city limits from 12:30 p.m. to midnight, and retail sales of beer and wine from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Monday's retail measure in Fort Oglethorpe differed from the one last November because it changed the time period in which alcohol retail sales were to be allowed, placing the city in line with Catoosa County's resolution.

The measure would have made Fort Oglethorpe more competitive with surrounding cities and counties in drawing businesses, according to Councilman Eddie Stinnett.

"I can't legislate morals to stop you from drinking," Stinnett said. "The bottom line is whether we want our city to grow."

Councilman Charles Sharrock, who proposed the 2011 measure, said citizens of Fort Oglethorpe already had made their decision about Sunday alcohol sales, and the council should respect it.

"They made a choice that they didn't want it," he said. "That told me that they care about their city morally and they wanted to keep it clean."

Linda Halpin, a Fort Oglethorpe resident who attended Monday's meeting, disagreed with the council's decision.

"I thought it was ludicrous," Halpin said. "You cannot control people morally. I don't drink, but I think we need to be able to say yes or no."

Contact staff writer Rachel Bunn at rbunn@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6592.

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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