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Commission revises Forsyth Countys alcohol code

FORSYTH COUNTY — The Forsyth County commission made several changes to the local alcohol code during its meeting Thursday night.

The first measure, which passed in a 5-0 vote, ends the requirement that certain businesses, mostly grocery stores and pharmacies, need each person who handles alcohol to have a personal alcohol sales permit. 

Under the previous setup, both the person selling the alcohol and the bagger had to have a permit.

“This would dispense with the need for individuals who work at stores where they do have package sales, but that is not their only business … that it would not require anyone but basically those engaged in alcohol transactions to have a sales permit,” explained County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

“We got some feedback with folks that felt like we were really going too far with what we required.”

The commission also approved in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Brian Tam opposed, to change the number of special event permits from 12 per year to 24.

The permits allow caterers and similar merchants to sell alcohol at an event rather than their place of business.

A third change to the code eliminates the minimum seat requirements for any business with an on-premises alcohol permit.

Previously, a business needed to have at least 50 seats, and the discussion stemmed from a local business owner who had close to that.

The change passed 4-1, with Commissioner Jim Boff against.

Another item discussed, but not adopted — this was the first of two required public hearings on the matter — was a change that would affect movie theaters with alcohol licenses.

Under current rules, businesses must have customers gone within 30 minutes of the end of alcohol sales. That is 1:30 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 2:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Those times are earlier than the end of some late screenings.

“[The current rule] prevented them from selling alcohol at their establishment in the later evening hours, because they have shows going into the 1, 2 and sometimes — on feature film nights —3 in the morning,” Jarrard said.

A second part of the measure would clarify what qualifies as a “brew pub” in the county.

Brew pubs are allowed to brew their own beer or malt beverage and give samples, but must generate more than 50 percent of their revenue come from food sales.

The change would better align county code with that of the state.