County con­sid­er­ing changes to al­co­hol cater­ing

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - ROB DEWIG rdewig@cov­

There are two ways to hold catered par­ties with cash bars in some ar­eas of New­ton County.

First, a lo­cal company with a by-the-drink li­cense could host one, but no com­pa­nies now have such a li­cense. Sec­ond, a company with a li­cense from another ju­ris­dic­tion like the city of Cov­ing­ton or Rock­dale County could host one, and there are plenty of those.

But the county’s by-the-drink or­di­nances don’t ap­ply in the county’s ru­ral ar­eas. Tues­day night, New­ton County at­tor­ney Jenny Carter pre­sented a draft rule that would add an ex­tra layer to the per­mits al­ready needed to pro­vide for cash-bar par­ties.

The com­mis­sion­ers ul­ti­mately tabled the idea dur­ing the pre-com­mis­sion work­shop, with the prom­ise to con­sider it again the first meet­ing in Oc­to­ber.

Com­mis­sioner John Dou­glas has been re­quest­ing the or­di­nance change for months now, as restau­rants in Cov­ing­ton and else­where have asked to cater events with al­co­hol in east­ern New­ton County — his dis­trict.

No mat­ter what, Carter said, the in­spec­tions and per­mits now in place will re­main. Cater­ers must get an event per­mit, be in­spected by health of­fi­cials (if they serve food), and the fire mar­shal (if they’re in a build­ing). They must also pro­vide de­tails like ex­pected traf­fic and the rea­son for the party, even if it’s just a party.

A new pro­viso of the pro­posed rule change would be that the amount spent

on al­co­hol for a party can­not ex­ceed the amount spent on food. Com­mis­sioner Lanier Sims ques­tioned how that would be pos­si­ble. Carter replied that re­ceipts should do the trick.

The board talked of putting lim­its of four per caterer or four per lo­ca­tion, but no decision was made. Com­mis­sion­ers also ques­tioned what would hap­pen to cater­ers who vi­o­late the pro­posed rule. Carter replied that fu­ture event per­mits would be de­nied. Chair­man Keith El­lis asked if dou­ble fees were pos­si­ble. Carter ad­vised against that.

Carter said much of the pro­posed or­di­nance change was based on a sim­i­lar, suc­cess­ful pro­gram in Glynn County.

The or­di­nance will come up for dis­cus­sion at the Oct. 7 com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing.

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