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Sunday alcohol sales start Sunday in McDonough

Henry County’s other cities must wait

When the Atlanta Falcons take the field Sunday to face the Tennessee Titans, McDonough fans who have not bought that six pack or case of beer for the event, now will be able to do so.

Voters in McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton and Locust Grove authorized Sunday, package alcohol sales during the Nov. 8 municipal elections. The results were certified Monday by Henry County Elections and Registration Director Janet Shellnutt.

McDonough will be the first city in Henry County permitting Sunday sales. Its ordinance pertaining to Sunday sales, specifies that the sales will be allowed beginning Nov. 20.

Mayor Pro Tempore Sandra Vincent signed the measure this summer, in case the vote was favorable.

“Our council adopted a resolution [while I was in the hospital] subject to the voters adopting Sunday retails sales,” said McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland.

“I cannot tell you what this will mean in terms of revenues. It’s too early,” said Copeland. “It was one of the quietest-winning-referendum elections we’ve ever had,” he added.

The county’s remaining three cities are working to determine when to begin allowing Sunday alcohol sales in their areas. Shellnutt said there are no liquor stores operating outside the city limits of any municipality in Henry. Sales of beer, wine and liquor are allowed in Stockbridge, Locust Grove and Hampton, while only beer and wine sales are allowed in McDonough, she added.

“We’re going to have a resolution at the next work session,” said Stockbridge City Administrator Ray Gibson. “We’re probably going to adopt it at the December meeting. It will be effective Jan. 1.” He said the measure will outline all of the rules and regulations on how they [businesses] in the county’s most populous city can operate on Sundays.

Hampton City Manager Andy Pippin said his city council is not expected to establish an effective date for Sunday alcohol sales until next month. “We’re going to wait for our council to amend our existing ordinance, to add Sundays to it. That first reading of the new ordinance will be on Dec. 6.”

Pippin said it is “yet to be determined” whether Hampton city leaders will have a called meeting for the second reading of the new ordinance.

Locust Grove City Councilman Otis Hammock said he is uncertain when Sunday alcohol sales will be allowed in his city. “It could be as early as the next workshop, but we wouldn’t vote on it until the first of December,” he said.

Shellnutt said she has gotten several calls in the wake of the election, from angry residents inquiring about when they could purchase alcohol on a Sunday in their municipality.

“It was one of the strangest pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen,” said Shellnutt. “The governor left it up to each individual city and county, as to whether they wanted to put it on a ballot.”

She said Sunday alcohol sales will not be allowed outside the city limits of any municipality, unless the Henry County Board of Commissioners authorizes such sales in the 2012 election. “It’s hard for people to understand that this was actually a municipality year in voting, and all four cities did have the alcohol sales on the ballots,” said Shellnutt. “County, federal and state elections are next year. It will be left up to the Board of Commissioners, as to whether they do a resolution to place it on a ballot next year.”

Henry Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis, said her board has not discussed whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated portions of the county.

“We don’t even have elections until July and November of next year,” said Mathis. “That’s a discussion that would have to take place between the board members, between now and the next election, and we’ve not had that conversation.”