The McDonough city council voted 3-4 at its meeting on November 16 to deny the creation of a downtown entertainment district. The item may be reconsidered during the council’s next and final meeting of the year on December 14. If approved, the district would allow for the open container of alcoholic beverages downtown subject to requirements adopted by the city.
Mayor Pro Temp Craig Elrod, who has led the initiative to form the district at the request of downtown business owners, council members Ben Pruett and Roger Pruitt voted in favor of creating the district. Mayor Billy Copeland, council members Rufus Stewart, Kam Varner and Sandra Vincent voted against the motion.
The primary point of debate among members of the council was the size of the proposed district. Two options were presented by Mayor Pro Temp Elrod to the council as a whole, the larger area shaded in blue on the map above that mirrors the existing Main Street district and smaller area in green that mirrors the old Main Street district. Council member Vincent asked for a better delineated map of the green area to be prepared and presented before the ordinance was voted on.
Council member Vincent asked the city to allow additional time for public comment on the proposed district including the suggestion of a formal public comment period. Vincent requested the city notify business owners and residents in the downtown area to gather additional feedback.
The motion by Mayor Pro Temp Elrod was to approve the downtown entertainment district with the area shaded in green. The item was first presented for discussion during the council meeting on November 5.
About the Proposed Ordinance
The ordinance would require the McDonough Tourism office to produce a clear plastic cup that can then be sold to downtown businesses with alcohol licenses. Alcoholic beverages purchased by customers with the intent of carrying their drink outdoors must be inside one of the clear plastic cups. The color of the cup would change quarterly.
Open container laws for all other alcoholic beverages not inside the city-approved cup would remain unchanged. The proposed ordinance would have no impact on the city’s enforcement of other state laws pertaining to alcohol consumption, such as DUI.
The open container of alcoholic beverages would be allowed between 12 pm to 11 pm on Mondays through Saturdays. Sundays are excluded. The size of the drink would be limited to 16 fluid ounces.
The open container ordinance does not override the city’s existing park ordinance that prohibits alcoholic beverages. City parks within the proposed district, including the interior of the McDonough Square, would retain a prohibition on alcoholic beverages. No open containers, including the city’s plastic cup, would be allowed inside the town square.