Whitfield County to vote on Sunday alcohol sales

Whitfield County to vote on Sunday alcohol sales

May 10th, 2011 by Mariann Martin in News

Javier Espitia, left, buys two packs of Coronita Extra from Jennifer Crisp, a cashier at Cox's Spirits, in Dalton, Ga. Staff File Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

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DALTON, Ga. - Whitfield County residents will decide whether to approve Sunday sales of beer and wine by the package in November, after county commissioners voted unanimously Monday evening to place the item on the ballot.

Because the county does not allow liquor sales by the package, only beer and wine sales will be considered.

County commissioners also discussed placing Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink on the ballot, but tabled the issue after some discussion. A final decision likely will be made on that issue by the end of June, Chairman Mike Babb said.

Waiting to decide on the issue would allow county residents to provide opinions, Babb said.

The county currently allows sales of liquor by the drink six days of the week. A referendum to change that to include Sunday was defeated narrowly several years ago, commissioners said during their meeting.

The Dalton City Council voted last week to place Sunday package sales of beer and wine on the ballot but will have to vote again on the issue. Because the city allows sales of liquor, beer and wine, it must include all three items on the referendum vote.

Georgia law long has forbidden the Sunday sales of packaged alcohol, but this spring the Legislature approved a bill allowing cities and counties to decide whether to place a question on the issue on local ballots.

If the measure is passed by voters in November, alcohol could be sold from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Before the commissioners' vote Monday evening, Doug Keener, a former commissioner, urged them to pass the resolution.

"Anything we can do to benefit our businesses in these tough economic times is important," Keener said. "This may also open another door for additional opportunities - there are certain chains that will not consider a location unless it has these provisions."

Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at mmartin@timesfreepress.com or 706-980-5824.