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Decatur City Commission to consider making open container ordinance permanent

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Decatur City Commission to consider making open container ordinance permanent

(l-r) Ryan Baill, Jessica Perraud, Mary Finley and Josef Fessenden take advantage of the city of Decatur’s temporary open container policy during FAB Friday on November 20, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission will meet on Monday, Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m. for a regular meeting. The meeting will be held in person at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street, as well as Zoom.

To access the meeting, follow these instructions: 

Participants must register in advance through Zoom to receive the meeting link. To register, click here.

The meeting will also be livestreamed on the city’s website.

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

During the meeting, the City Commission will consider amending the off-premise alcoholic beverage ordinance, which permits off-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages in specified restaurant districts. The amendment to the ordinance would make it permanent and eliminate an expiration date.

The ordinance, sometimes referred to as the open container ordinance, was first adopted in October 2020 and has been extended multiple times. It is in effect until 1 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2022.

The ordinance currently includes five business districts:

– Downtown Business District

– West Ponce Business District

– Old Depot Business District

– East College Business District, and

– Oakhurst Business District.

Within the amendment, the City Commission will consider creating the West College Restaurant District, with specific locations at The Imperial, Avellino’s Pizza, and Wahoo Grill.

The ordinance is currently in effect during set hours Friday through Sunday. The amendment would change the effective dates and times to Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight each day.

Participating businesses will be required to use 7-ounce and 12-ounce plastic cups with a city of Decatur logo in order for customers to be able to carry their drinks throughout the districts. Cups will be ordered through the city.

City staff will also provide an update on the Better Together Advisory Board’s discussion of the tree ordinance. At the Dec. 6 City Commission meeting, the commissioners sent the ordinance to the Better Together Advisory Board to evaluate the canopy loss fee regarding any impacts on equity and inclusion.

At the meeting, concerns were raised about the potential financial impact the tree ordinance could have on residents.

Under the proposed ordinance, “a canopy loss fee shall be paid to the tree bank by the property owner for any protected tree that is removed.”

“The canopy loss fee is a fee that estimates the benefits lost to the community by removal of a tree. The fee is based on the amount of yearly benefit lost per tree per year, and is determined by using the National Tree Benefit calculator and multiplying the annual benefit for 30 years,” Saxon told Decaturish.

This would only apply to trees that are in fair or better condition, and would not apply to dead, untreatably diseased or hazardous trees. But the canopy loss fee would apply to all property owners who want to remove a healthy tree, even if they are otherwise in compliance with the ordinance.

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