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Public hearings set for alcohol code update
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County residents will soon have the chance to voice their opinions on county alcohol code changes that could pop the bottle for drinking at art studios, beer festivals and mixed use developments.

Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 to move forward with public hearings for changes to the county’s alcohol ordinance during a work session on Tuesday.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said art studios could potentially be among certain businesses that do not have to meet the alcohol code’s requirement for food sales.

“We would have to put this sort of a venture into a category of establishments that do not have to meet the 50 percent food requirement,” he said. “[The owner would] have a wine bar at his little art studio, but he would [not] be selling; you could not bring it into his art [studio].”

Jarrard said there were a “handful” of business that didn’t need to meet the requirement, such as certain golf courses, marinas and bowling alleys.

The discussion began with a request seeking to open a studio like those in nearby cities in north Fulton that allow customers to bring in their own alcohol from another store, also called “B.Y.O.B.,” which is not allowed in the county.

District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam, who works in the restaurant industry, spoke against “B.Y.O.B.”

“I’m in that business; I really think B.Y.O.B. is a bad idea because it opens you up, then you get into open containers,” he said.

Another concern was underage drinking, which Jarrard said the change would take steps against.

“To the extent that an adult brings a minor... and they’re pouring alcohol, I think the regulation needs to be that if that’s happening in your studio, you will be summoned to this board and given a citation no different than if you were a vendor at a [convenient store] selling underage,” he said.

Commissioners also moved forward with a public hearing for alcohol and open container rules for projects in the Master Planned District, or MPD, zoning category, which is used for mixed-use developments.

Chairman Pete Amos said the change should come before the opening of the large mixed-use developments, such as the Halcyon in south Forsyth, to host similar events to Alpharetta’s Avalon.

“We need to get progressive with this and go ahead and fix it before they get ready to open,” Amos said.

District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent also spoke in favor of changes leading to more beer festivals, which he said would likely start growing in the county.

Public hearings will be held for the changes, though no date was given at the meeting.