Of­fi­cials tap back into al­co­hol or­di­nance for brew­ery re­vi­sions

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams SJ Correspond­ent

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.

Sean Wil­liams / Stan­dard Jour­nal

Com­mis­sion­ers Dale Tuck and An­drew Carter lis­ten to con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sions of changes to the Al­co­hol or­di­nance in Cedar­town dur­ing the Sept. 18 ses­sion.

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