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Clarkston City Council continues discussion of alcohol delivery


Clarkston City Council continues discussion of alcohol delivery

Clarkston City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, Ga. — The Clarkston City Council continued discussions at the Tuesday, April 27, work session about allowing delivery-only businesses to sell and deliver beer, wine or malt beverages within the city.

Gopuff requested this change and the City Council began discussions at the March 30 work session. Gopuff’s Clarkston location is requesting the change so it can venture into delivering beer and wine as a retail delivery shop.

According to the agenda packet, Gopuff is requesting that the following language be added to the ordinance: “Retail Delivery Shop means a retail establishment, which is engaged in the retail sale of food products, household goods and other sundry items for delivery only, that has a total interior floor area of not more than 10,000 square feet.”

The City Council deferred a vote on this item at the April 6 regular meeting.

The city currently has a moratorium on new licenses for the sale of packaged beer, wine or malt beverages unless the business is a growler shop, specialty wine shop or a grocery store.

More concerns were raised at the April 27 meeting and the consensus of the board seemed to be opposed to the amendment.

Vice Mayor Awet Eyasu said he doesn’t see how the city can justify allowing delivery-only businesses when they are not allowing new brick and mortar businesses to sell alcohol.

“This is a new concept. It’s a new idea, but at the end of the day, they’re all delivering the same product, alcohol,” Eyasu said. “But if we’re going to allow it we should just legalize it all and allow if somebody wants to open a brick and mortar [store] as well, because there will be no excuse for us to say you can’t do this once we open the can.”

He also raised concerns that if the city allows Gopuff to deliver alcohol then it would have to allow other delivery-only businesses, like Amazon, to do the same if they applied for a license in the city.

“I really want to look at this in light of the moratorium,” Eysau said. “If we did not have a moratorium this would have been an easy pass to me but since we have a moratorium I don’t really understand how we’re going to be able to legitimize our board and say we can allow only delivery but not brick and mortar.”

The moratorium was put in place a few years ago and the City Council at the time felt that the need for liquor stores was being met. Eyasu said there are several businesses in the city that sell alcohol and Mayor Beverly Burks agreed there is a large number given that Clarkston is a 1.6 square mile city.

City Manager Robin Gomez said there are 26 businesses in the city that can sell beer, wine, malt beverages and/or liquor. Although, restaurants are included in that number and they can only sell alcohol on their premises.

The intent of the moratorium was not to limit the sale of alcohol but rather to limit the amount of retail stores dedicated to selling alcohol.

Councilmember Debra Johnson added that in conversations with residents she has not found anyone who sees the need for this change and this service.

“My whole hang up is I can’t verify ID at the door. I can’t verify that they’re going to check ID at the door and if you’re just a delivery driver, are you going to leave it at the door,” Johnson added. “[Gopuff] did clarify some things for me on the last call but I still do not see this being a need in the city of Clarkston at this time.”

The delivery-only business model, however, didn’t exist when the moratorium was passed, Councilmember Laura Hopkins said.

“I don’t think that sort of creates the retail clutter that I think the original moratorium was intended to prevent,” Hopkins said.

The city does have numerous businesses currently that can deliver alcohol as the state recently changed the law to allow alcohol delivery.

— In other business, the City Council discussed a charter amendment related to the oath of office that elected and appointed officials take. The oath currently ends with the phrase “so help me God” and the board explored four changes to the ending.

The first option was to keep the phrase. The second option was to remove “so help me God” and have the oath end with the name of the office.

The third option was to give the oath taker to choice to say “so help me God” or not.

The last option gives the oath taker the choice to insert a solemn declaration of the deity or higher power of their choice or elect not to do so. This option was the general consensus of the City Council.

“I think all of us on the council took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Hopkins said. “The Constitution clearly says we cannot establish a religion by the state, and I think leaving each person to their own conscience and their own faith is probably the only reasonable and fair way to go.”

Any change to the oath would be a change to the city’s charter. So the measure will have to be voted on at two consecutive regular meetings before it can be adopted.

The City Council will meet for a regular meeting on Tuesday, May 4, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

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