Legislature lifts alcohol restrictions that would limit Callaway development
This story has been updated.
The state Legislature on Thursday passed general legislation that gave a boost Decatur’s plans to redevelop the Callaway property.
While the General Assembly did not pass the city’s annexation plan or its plans to expand the homestead tax exemption, it did vote to lift certain alcohol restrictions. Currently, state law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption within 200 yards of a school. The Callaway building, located at 120 West Trinity Place, is right behind Decatur High School.
The city has an agreement with Cousins Properties to redevelop the 5.25 acre site. The city purchased the property from DeKalb County using $5.12 million borrowed by issuing bonds. DeKalb County currently occupies the building but the county’s lease ends in October of this year.
That could’ve limited the city’s ability to attract a grocery store to this location. House Bill 85, Approved on April 2, lifts that restriction when a local municipality deems it appropriate. The bill now awaits Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.
Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss said, “We are pleased that the legislation passed.”
Two of Decatur’s legislators, State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, and state Sen. Elena Parent, SD-42, voted against the final version of bill.
Rep. Oliver said she was traveling today and could not immediately respond to our question about why she voted against it.
Sen. Parent said she voted against the bill because it was joined with another bill that “dealt with selling alcohol near the old Central State Hospital.”
She also voted against it because, “I just opposed the part about selling alcohol near schools. But you don’t get to vote in sections!”