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Ordinance changes focus of Cumming City Council work session
City Center
Mayor Troy Brumbalow and city council members partnered with the Forsyth County Board of Education and administrators from Forsyth Central High School on Tuesday to cut the ribbon and officially open a new parking lot adjacent to Forsyth Central High School. The parking lot will be shared by FCHS students and the Cumming City Center. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

New rules for alcohol and certain outdoor gatherings could soon be in effect in the city of Cumming.

Two ordinance changes were presented for information only to Mayor Troy Brumbalow and the Cumming City Council at their meeting on Tuesday by City Attorney Kevin Tallant. No action was taken on either item, and they will come back to a future meeting. Earlier in the day, Brumbalow and the council joined officials from Forsyth County Schools for a ribbon-cutting on a new parking lot adjacent to Forsyth Central High School. The parking lot will be shared by FCHS students and the Cumming City Center.


Alcohol changes

Tallant said changes to the state’s alcohol code after the passage of House Bill 879 in this year’s legislative session would mean changes to the city’s code.

HB 879 implemented a new statewide centralized alcohol license application process, allowed for stores selling alcohol by the package to begin selling at 11 a.m. instead of 12:30 p.m. on Sundays with city approval and allow for restaurants, package stores and grocery stores to do deliveries for alcohol.

“Because the changes are so significant, especially with regard to this new category of deliveries and the new centralized permitting process, it really just kind of guts the middle of your alcohol ordinance,” Tallant told the council, “and in talking it over with your city administrator, Mr. [Phil] Higgins, and your planning and zoning director, Mr. [Scott] Morgan, it’s our recommendation and belief the best thing to do at this point is just do a new alcohol ordinance.”

Tallant said a new ordinance would “be more streamlined” and that he would get feedback from councilmembers before bringing the new ordinance. 

He said unlike the brunch bill that was passed in recent years, which allowed restaurants to serve alcohol starting at 11 a.m. instead of 12:30 p.m., if approved by voters, the change would only need to be approved by the city.

Package stores will also be allowed to do tastings under the new state rules, but customers cannot sample more than eight ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of a distilled spirits and can only have samples of one type of alcohol.

“So, you can only have beer one day, wine on another day, distilled spirits on another, and you’ve got to spread out those ounces over a four-hour period,” Tallant said.

The new statewide system for alcohol licenses will move the process online rather than licensees having to resubmit with the city, but the city will still be able to deny permits.


Outdoor gatherings 

Also discussed at the meeting was a zoning ordinance amendment for open air markets within the city.

“This just deals with open-air markets where you have vendors coming in for like a weekend event on privately-owned land in the city,” he said.

Tallant said the proposal was new to the ordinance and could be adopted in November.

“The goal of what we have here was to allow these things to happen, but make it so we don’t have a situation where we have people spilling over onto the sidewalk or the street,” he said. “We don’t want it set up where there are three or four or five of these going on on adjacent lots on the same weekend so  that you end up with something like a mini festival going on in one of our business corridors or something like that.”

During the discussion, city councilmembers had questions about the pricing for a permit, numbers of vendors and who would need permits.