Also during its meeting Thursday night, the Forsyth County commission:
* Extended by a 3-2 vote the 90-day moratorium on enforcement of message frequency of the county sign ordinance until March 5. Commissioners Jim Boff and Todd Levent were opposed.
* Approved the rezoning of 55.6 acres from Agricultural 1 to Residential 2 for 63 lots on McBrayer Road.
* Accepted a $30,000 grant award from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency with an in-kind match not to exceed $7,500.
* As this was the final meeting of the year, the commission also renewed many agreements for services throughout county various departments.
Note: All votes were 5-0 unless listed otherwise.
-- Kelly Whitmire
FORSYTH COUNTY — During its final meeting of the year, the Forsyth County commission voted 3-1 to approve revisions to the local alcohol code affecting setback distances for on-site consumption.
Commissioner Jim Boff was opposed and Commissioner Brian Tam was recused from the decision.
“Now the county has a new methodology for calculating setbacks for basically consumption-on-the-premises licenses, which has restaurants, and how you set back those uses from schools and churches,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “Now it’s based on an as the crow flies measurement from property line to property line.”
That means businesses that serve alcohol on site, such as restaurants, must be 60 feet away from churches and schools. The change does not affect package or grocery stores and gas stations because they do not allow on-premises consumption.
“Where we were was we really didn’t carve out on-premises consumption as an independent class setback,” Jarrard said. “We based on setbacks on whether it was wine and malt beverages or distilled spirits, and we still make that distinction in the context of package stores.”
The new rule puts wine and malt beverages and distilled spirits under the same rules, where before the two had been separate.
“For liquor, distilled spirits, it was this straight-line measurement of property line to property line,” Jarrard said.
“For wine and malt beverages, it was this formula that was called ‘the most direct route traveled on the ground,’ which is a different sort of formula,” he said “It’s somewhat complicated and not very user friendly.”
Jarrard said commercial development was also considered for the new method.
“[Restaurants are] so critical to commercial development, and it’s part of the sorts of operations that customers and citizens want to have in their commercial corridors that you don’t want to penalize them just because their happens to be a school nearby.”
“You’re taking away a lot of viable area, for basically I guess, restaurants.”
There was no discussion of the matter Thursday as commissioners previously deadlocked 2-2 in a Dec. 4 vote. Pete Amos and Cindy Jones Mills voted in favor and Todd Levent and Boff against, with Tam absent.
Thursday, Tam’s recusal meant that the motion failed and the commission had to pass a motion of reconsideration. Once that passed, Levent voted in favor. He said his initial vote had been to ensure current licensees were grandfathered in should the change affect them.