A recent social media poll conducted by The Hartwell Sun shows overwhelming support for liquor by the drink sales in Hart County outside of city limits, a measure that could be added as a referendum ballot initiative in the November election, but some residents still oppose the idea.
County attorney Walter Gordon told The Sun this week he has determined that the Hart County Board of Commissioners can authorize the Hart County Board of Elections to conduct a referendum vote on these questions in time to appear on the November general election ballot.
According to the Facebook poll posted by The Sun, 81 percent of respondents support liquor by the drink sales outside of city limits in the county, while 19 percent were against.
A total of 288 people responded to the poll, with 234 supporting liquor drink sales in the county and 54 respondents showing opposition to liquor by the drink sales.
Liquor by the drink is already available in the city of Hartwell at several restaurants.
At the June 23 Hart County Board of Commissioners meeting, Jerry McHan, who represented the Hart County Chamber of Commerce, asked the commission, on behalf of Tilly’s Tiki Bar and Grill and the Boathouse Grill, to consider putting liquor by the drink sales on the ballot. The commission unanimously approved a resolution to add liquor by the drink sales and liquor by the drink sales on Sunday as a referendum in the general election in November.
Boathouse Grill owner Jeff Adams told The Sun this week that he is pushing to have liquor by the drink sales to satisfy many of his customers who ask for drinks at his restaurant located next to the lake about a mile outside of city limits. He said a lot of his clientele are from out of town and are renting a spot on the lake.
“They stop in and they just sort of automatically think that you go to a restaurant and you can have a cocktail if you please,” Adams said.
Adams said his business isn’t suffering financially from not being able to serve liquor drinks, but he wants to be able to satisfy all of his patrons. He thanked the board of commissioners for moving to allow the voters to decide on the matter.
But still, some residents have showed opposition to the move.
Billy Segars, who responded to The Sun’s poll against liquor by the drink sales, said he doesn’t want the potential for bars to come into the county.
“I feel like it would open the doors up for bars in the county and I am highly against that,” Segars said. “... If bars become a thing in the county the sheriff’s department doesn’t have the man power to keep a check on drunks leaving bars along with keeping up with their regular calls. My children are getting close to being able to drive. I don’t want them on the roads with someone that just left a bar and thinks they are sober enough to drive even after a few drinks. Keeping it confined to the city is one thing.”
Hart County resident Tracy Dorsey told The Sun that she is against liquor by the drink sales because she is a Christian.
“I am a Christian and I see drinking as a sin. Allowing people to drink and drive should never be allowed in the first place with all the deaths from drunk driving,” Dorsey said.
Gordon said state law requires that the board of commissioners to issue a call for the election, and the election must be held no earlier than 30 or later than 60 days following the resolution issuing the call.
The board has plenty of time to consider the question, Gordon said, and will likely act on it sometime between Sept. 3 and Oct. 2, to be in compliance with the Georgia Code for voting on Nov. 3.
“That means that, most likely, the call for the election will be acted on at the regular meeting of September 8th,” Gordon said.