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Open container, beer festivals, alcoholic art studios now allowed in Forsyth

Forsyth County residents can now wet their whistles at a wider variety of businesses.

At a regular meeting on Thursday, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the county alcohol code to make way for drinking at art galleries, mixed-use developments and beer festivals.

“It will allow, for the first time in the county, the permitting for a non- on-premises consumption license for art studios or art galleries,” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said. “It would allow open container, or basically the ability to leave an on-premises consumption premise with an open container in property zoned [master planned district] or [planned unit development].

“Then finally, it would allow a special event permit with respect to festivals.”

The change for art studios means those businesses will not be required to make at least 50 percent of their sales from food, which is typically required for alcohol licenses in the county.

For those at mixed-use developments, patrons can now purchase a “to-go” cup at restaurants in the development, and only one drink would be allowed per person.

Residential and commercial stores would have the choice to not allow it on their property.

“I think the expectation would be that they would be able to walk around with the alcohol on the common thoroughfares and, perhaps in the retail section, or, perhaps, maybe where the movie theater is or the restaurants,” Jarrard said.

The change allowing for festivals also requires that those who hold them submit site, crowd control and security plans if more than 25 people are planned to attend.

Only one speaker, Larry Duckworth, spoke during the public hearing. He said he was not necessarily for or against the change but had questions if the county had the means to control beer festivals and open containers.

A previous public hearing was held at the commission’s Sept. 15 regular meeting.