The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, anticipating a large turnout tonight for its discussion of a liquor-by-the-drink referendum, moved its meeting from the relatively small Commission Chamber to the much larger Courtroom 1, but the change of venue proved to be unnecessary.
Only nine people spoke, with three of them expressing opposition to the proposal to put the issue before voters in November.
The remainder said they wanted citizens to have a chance to vote, though most did not take a position on what citizens should do once they go to the polls.
Joey Wilson, chairman of the Economic Education Committee of the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, said he was certain that some people in the community want the issue on the ballot so they can vote it down, as voters have three times in the past.
Others want the issue to pass, Wilson said, as the video shows. Reflecting the position of the Chamber, Wilson said the BOC should put the issue on the ballot.
In the end, the issue was simply put off until the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Aug. 5. Chairman Melvin Davis said last night he will ask for the Board to vote then on whether it wants to put the issue on the ballot for the November 4 election.
Daniells Bridge Road
Two projects involving Daniells Bridge Road produced opposition from residents of subdivisions along that roadway.
The BOC was being asked to consider project framework agreements with the state that would set the timetables for widening of the roadway from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road and for construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road that would connect, via a flyover of SR Loop 10, with Jennings Mill Parkway at Home Depot.
Bob Isaac and James Morris, both members of the county’s Citizen Advisory Committee On Land Use And Transportation Planning, said the projects had not been properly vetted and that the BOC should refuse to take action on the agreements.
Isaac and Morris live in Welbrook Farms Subdivision, where I live.
Rick Waller, chairman of the county’s Industrial Development Authority and a resident of Birchmore Hills subdivision, also said more public scrutiny of the plans is needed before action is taken.
I said the road extension would put additional traffic on Daniells Bridge Road that it could not accommodate without a major re-engineering of the roadway.
County Clerk Jane Greathouse had anticipated that the two agreements, as well as one for construction and widening of Jimmy Daniell Road, would be tentatively approved and had them listed on the draft consent agenda for the Aug. 5 meeting.
Instead, Davis, who has been pushing the three projects in negotiations with the state, agreed to put them on the Aug. 5 agenda for further discussion.
County Attorney Daniel Haygood initiated the discussion of the liquor-by-the-drink referendum, indicating that he expected to draft an ordinance similar to the existing beer and wine ordinance should the Commission vote to go forward with the referendum.
Haygood said he expected the county to restrict where liquor could be sold to areas along major highways already approved for beer and wine sale.
One issue the county would have to consider, he said, was what ratio of alcohol to food sales would be appropriate.
At present, 75 percent of the restaurant’s revenue must come from food, but Haygood said the county might want to recalculate that given that alcoholic beverages are more costly than beer and wine.