Officials tap back into alcohol ordinance for brewery revisions
Cedartown is looking to be the first municipality in Polk County to provide business opportunities for those brewers that want to sell their drinks directly to customers, and officials by getting a change to the alcohol ordinance in place providing a easier path for getting licenses.
A fair share of bars and restaurants serve local citizens, but up until this point they’ve bought their beverages just like every other business in Georgia: through a wholesale distributor, and not directly from the manufacturer.
Assistant city clerk Edward Guzman’s proposed alcohol ordinance amendment is designed to give microbreweries, brewpub owners, and wineries the opportunity to open in Cedartown, with incentives provided in fee discounts not offered by neighboring municipalities.
“By setting fees in the mid-range of what other cities are charging, we can get breweries or wineries to locate to Cedartown,” said Guzman.
However, mid- range fees or not, opening a business that manufacturers or serves alcohol still requires one to purchase numerous licenses.
“The original ordinance I worked on required a brewpub to purchase a brewpub alcohol license in addition to the beer, wine, and liquor pouring license. This came to a total of $4,750 in alcohol licensing fees if they desired to sell beer, wine, and liquor,” said Guzman.
The $ 4,750 figure can be intimidating to a new business, so Cedartown’s commissioners discussed a discount system during their September meeting.
“Now the brewpub license is merged with the beer pouring license for a discount of $500 or around 10 percent. Additionally, if a brewpub decides to set up shop in the historic downtown district then they’ll receive a 25 percent discount on their total alcohol licensing fees,” Guzman explained.
This same discount is applied to restaurants in historic downtown, but the alcohol ordinance first has to undergo a public hearing and a second reading before implementation.
“I’m sure that we are looking at the ordinance going into effect in January,” said Commissioner Dale Tuck.
Ideally, the city’s incentives would be enough to attract smaller brewpubs — that double as a restaurant — into storefront areas while convincing larger manufacturers to invest in building or purchasing property in the industrial district.
Small scale brewpubs might be interested in opening on Main St., North Main, or the East or West Avenues.
Larger scale productions might look into West Avenue’s industrial park or the Northside Industrial Park off the Highway 27 bypass.
Any potential manufacturers are still governed by the state laws, which feature limitations on where facilities can be located and how many barrels of beer or wine a manufacturer can sell directly to the public.
Manufacturers must also meet a number of building codes designed to ensure the safety of in-town facilities. Those looking to open both a microbrewery and a larger manufacturing plant must obtain pouring licenses for both properties- according to current changes being proposed to the ordinance.
“The license applies only to the facility where t he product i s being made,” said Guzman.
Manufacturers have a 10,000-barrel limit when selling directly to customers. With a 33-gallon legal quantity per barrel, major producers can sell up to 330,000 gallons each year. Microbreweries operate on a smaller scale and typically use several hundred-gallon tanks for production.
Cedartown wants brewpubs to feel comfortable opening shop in the city, so commissioners agreed that businesses in need of multiple licenses will not have to fill out multiple sets of paper work to receive multiple licenses.
Each license request will be approved in due course by the commissioners that ultimately decide who receives alcohol licenses within city limits.
Fees are designed to be low enough to attract new businesses but high enough to ensure new business owners are “responsible enough to not cause any problems in the long term,” said Tuck. Licensing costs and discounts are subject to change if too many alcohol manufacturers flood the town.
Should the ordinance changes follow through, Cedartown will be one of the first communities to shape their alcohol ordinance around the state’s Senate Bill 85.
Georgia said goodbye to a tiered system that limited manufacturer sale to wholesalers who would then sell to retailers that would sell to citizens.
As of Sept. 1, new legislation signed by Governor Nathan Deal allows for alcohol manufacturers to sell to citizens without first having to sell their beverages to stores or retailers that sell to citizens.
The new system allows brewpub, brewery, or winery patrons the right purchase a limited amount of alcohol while on tours or dining on a meal in a microbrewery’s attached restaurant. The new ordinance does not apply to distilleries that wish to operate in the city, and no discounts or fees have been noted for such businesses.
Commissioners Dale Tuck and Andrew Carter listen to continuing discussions of changes to the Alcohol ordinance in Cedartown during the Sept. 18 session.