Provision clears way for 'growlers'
The Forsyth County commission also approved an alcohol ordinance change to accommodate the sale of beer in "growlers."
A growler — a 64-ounce glass, refillable jug for transport of draught beer — is planned as the basis of a business set to open in January across from The Avenue Forsyth.
The jug would’ve been prohibited in the county’s ordinance under the rule that the breaking of packages is not allowed, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.
The new growler section carves out an exception in the law.
— Alyssa LaRenzie
After enforcing penalties for violations of the alcohol ordinance Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners approved a change to the code that would affect businesses.
The county ordinance details suspensions or revocation punishments for alcohol sales permit holders and licensees found guilty of infractions in Magistrate Court.
The punishments rise with each violation in either category: technical and underage sales.
Commissioners voted 4-1 on Thursday to return to a rule that allows them to consider mitigating evidence in cases of underage sales for license holders.
For example, for the past year, a second violation has required a minimum seven-day suspension of a business’ alcohol license.
Under the change, commissioners can offer less than that if swayed by mitigating evidence, which could include measures a business has taken to prevent such an infraction.
Alcohol sales permit holders — those employees selling the product — would still be subject to required penalties without mitigation.
Commissioner Patrick Bell was the lone vote against the change Thursday, stating that mitigation allows them to be too lenient on businesses guilty of selling to underage persons.
"I don’t believe we need to tell our community that we’re going to soften the standards on people that provide alcohol for the sake of additional sales," said Bell, adding that mitigation only protects the restaurant business.
Chairman Brian Tam countered that commissioners could also enact tougher punishments, if deemed necessary, this way.
"I don’t think we’re protecting anybody," Tam said. "We’re giving the board flexibility on how to enforce the ordinance."
Local restaurant license holder Christine Martines addressed the commission on the ordinance change, stating that allowing mitigation is appropriate in the case of license holders.
Managers can provide training, put up notices and give constant reminders, Martines said, but it comes down to the employee.
"You can’t control the person that you hire to not give alcohol to underage or people that they shouldn’t," she said.
"Without mitigation in there, you are punishing the person who owns the business and the managers that work for them."
Earlier in the meeting, four license holders — two from convenience stores and two from restaurants — received sanctions for underage sales violations committed by their employees.
For a first offense, as was the case in these four, commissioners could levy a penalty ranging from a warning up to a 30-day suspension on sales.
Three of the businesses received a three-day suspension, and the other got five.
Also at their meeting Thursday, commissioners:
• Approved Always Construction Co.’s request to rezone from agriculture to commercial 9.5 acres on Ronald Reagan Boulevard at Haw Creek Road for office use.
• Authorized advertisement of public hearings for changes to the sign ordinance, which would require use of certain materials as the base for "mini-billboards."
• Postponed to Dec. 1 two zoning condition amendment decisions and one rezoning and variance request associated with a Zaxby’s restaurant proposed for Mathis Airport Parkway at Oakleaf Trail. Commissioner Patrick Bell opposed the delay.
• Denied adding an item to the agenda regarding an agreement between Forsyth County and Taubman Centers. Meeting additions require the support of four commissioners, and the vote was 3-2 with Pete Amos and Bell opposed.
• Delayed to Dec. 1 a public hearing for Diversified Asset Planning to amend zoning conditions. The property neighbors that of Taubman. Commissioners Bell and Amos opposed the postponement in the 3-2 decision.
-- Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.