Macon-Bibb County leaders said Tuesday they might develop stricter regulations for businesses that serve alcohol.
County commissioners discussed how active they can be in monitoring businesses where alcohol is served. The leeway county officials have depends on state and local codes that outline how a license is approved, renewed or revoked, County Attorney Judd Drake said during a presentation to commissioners.
The presentation was in response to Commissioner Al Tillman's concerns about some businesses he contends have problems with incidents such as illegal gambling, loitering, violence or failing to keep their property free of litter. This is the second time in two weeks that commissioners focused on this issue.
"(The) Planning and Zoning (Commission) might see a problem and the sheriff might see a problem, and that might mean it's time for us to change the rules," said Commissioner Bert Bivins, who added it wouldn't be an overnight process.
There are some methods that the county's planning and zoning officials use, such as a moratorium on approving new downtown liquor stores, that commissioners might be able to put in place as well, said Jim Thomas, the zoning commission's executive director.
"The legal problem is there has to be something unique about that business to trigger that density control," he said. "You get into the free market where you can't control them of the right to do business."
If an alcohol license is revoked or suspended by the commission, then the business owner is able to have a hearing. If the sheriff takes away the alcohol license, then the matter could go to Municipal Court, according to county law.
"The issue always comes as to whether it's an objective criteria or arbitrary and capricious," Drake said.
Among the reasons an alcohol license can be revoked or suspended is if there are two or more times within a 12-month period where "fights, disorderly conduct, drunkenness, breach of peace, and similar conduct" takes place at the business, according to Macon-Bibb County code.
However, that number is not a hard-line rule, as some issues may be as simple as a business owner calling 911 because someone who is drunk walked into their store while other businesses may deal with more serious issues, Sheriff David Davis said.
The sheriff's office reviews the incidents to see if they rise to a level of having to meet with the owners or possibly taking away the license, he said.
"There may be a place where people are hanging out being mischievous, but it doesn't rise to the level of the sheriff's office having to respond," Davis said.
BLIGHT FUNDING MOVES PAST COMMITTEE
The commission's Economic and Community Development Committee approved two resolutions Tuesday that would provide $750,000 for projects centered on three former schools.
The committee agreed to move forward to the full commission a resolution to spend $350,000 to acquire Alexander IV Elementary School, at 3769 Ridge Ave., for potential future development. Commissioner Mallory Jones would use that portion of his blight money to support the Historic Macon Foundation's attempts to buy the historic Ridge Avenue building with plans to find a developer.
The committee also supported Commissioner Ed DeFore's pledge of $400,000 to a partner agency that would be used to rehabilitate the neighborhood around a planned residential village replete with senior housing and a park. The money would go toward work in the neighborhood around the A.L. Miller school project off Montpelier Avenue.
COMMISSIONERS SEEK AGENCY SUPPORT FOR SPECIAL TAX PROJECTS
The County Commission is expected to vote next week on whether to work with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia as officials develop a list of projects funded by a special tax.
The commission's Committee of the Whole supported Tuesday having ACCG to guide commission discussions about special purpose local options sales tax projects that are expected to go to vote before Macon residents in November.
ACCG is the organization that developed the guidelines for SPLOST projects in the state and has flexible schedule to meet with county officials said Julie Moore, assistant to the county manager for budget and planning.
"They're not coming in to tell us what to do but to help with the process," Mayor Robert Reichert said.
SHERIFF'S ANNEX GETS MORE MONEY
The county's Operations and Finance Committee approved a $400,000 bond transfer to continue work on a downtown annex for the sheriff's office and state probation office.
The bond transfer would move money from a planned east Bibb fire station to the remodeling project at the former Sears Roebuck building on the corner of Third Street and Riverside Drive.
Another resolution approved by the committee seeks to replenish the account of the future Jeffersonville Road station with leftover SPLOST money from other fire station projects.
To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.