Photo by Curt Yeomans
A sign outside a Jonesboro QuikTrip announces that alcohol can now be bought on Sundays at the gas station, since city voters OK'd Sunday alcohol sales through a referendum last fall. Clayton County voters will decide in November whether Sunday alcohol sales should be expanded to unincorporated parts of the county.
People may not have to wait much longer to begin buying packaged alcohol on Sundays in unincorporated areas of Clayton County.
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution on Tuesday that calls for a referendum to take place on allowing sales of malt beverages and wine on Sundays in unincorporated parts of the county. The resolution sets the referendum to take place during Nov. 6 general election, which will likely draw large numbers of voters who go to the polls to participate in the presidential election.
If approved, Sunday alcohol sales would be allowed to begin immediately at stores in unincorporated areas of the county. They would only be restricted to selling the products between the hours of 12:30 p.m., and 11:30 p.m., on Sundays.
Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said he personally does not support Sunday alcohol sales because it is a day when many people go to church. He also said, however, that the issue should be left to the voters in the county to decide.
“I believe God gives us choices, and I believe the citizens ought to have choices,” Bell said.
By voting now to hold a referendum, the commission is already playing catch-up to city councils that approved similar referendums last year in six of the county’s seven towns.
The cities of College Park, Forest Park, Jonesboro, Lake City, and Riverdale held similar referendums on allowing Sunday alcohol sales within their respective city limits, last year, and voters in each of those cities approved the meassure. Lovejoy held its referendum in March, and the meassure passed there as well.
Sunday alcohol sales have already begun in each of those towns. Morrow is the only Clayton County city which has not yet held a referendum on the alcohol sales. Morrow City Manager Jeff Eady recently said an ordinance calling for a Sunday alcohol sales has not yet been introduced before the town’s city council, although he added the issue is being considered.
“There are discussions about doing something, but right now, it’s just in the discussion stage,” he said. “I look for it to be out there in the near future.”
Even though the county referendum would only impact unincorporated parts of the county, residents of the cities would also be able to vote in the referendum, according to County Attorney Jack Hancock. That would avoid a repeat of a problem that surfaced earlier this year in Cobb County, after it held a similar referendum on Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated areas.
The results of the Cobb County referendum ended up being thrown out by a judge because only voters in unincorporated areas of Cobb County were allowed to cast ballots in the original vote. Cobb County had to set a new referendum for later this year, as a result.
Georgia law requires that every voter in the county be allowed to participate in a county-wide referendum, regardless of what part of the county they live in, Hancock said.