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MARIETTA Faced with a property owner threatening to leave the city for the county through the de-annexation process, the City Councils Judicial Legislative Committee agreed to lift the ban on drive-through liquor sales.
The committee, composed of Philip Goldstein, Van Pearlberg and Jim King, voted 3-0 to lift the ban during Mondays committee meeting.
C.W. Edwards of East Cobb owns three acres off Delk Road near Interstate 75 which houses a liquor store called Elite Package Store. The store, which opened in 1982, was located in the county at the time. A drive-through window was installed in 1986, Edwards said.
In 1993, the city convinced Edwards to be annexed from the county so that that it would be contiguous with the bordering property.
But in July 2010, Marietta Police said the store was in violation of the citys ban on selling liquor through the window.
City Manager Bill Bruton said police discovered the violation during a training exercise.
The Council had a lengthy debate on the topic in July 2010 when storeowner Jigish Patel asked to be able to continue selling liquor through his drive-through window just as he always had.
King asked at the time what the difference was between parking and entering the store as opposed to driving through to purchase liquor.
Councilman Johnny Sinclair said at the time a storeowner could more easily see if someone was intoxicated if they walked in.
At least theyd have to get out and walk in and let them get a good look at them in a lighted store, he said.
Yet Councilwoman Annette Lewis pointed out that beer and wine could be sold through the drive-through.
Still, Mayor Steve Tumlin at the time said he was opposed to lifting the ban.
I think the speed, the ease, the alcohol content between 6 or 7 percent and 10 or 12 to liquor, theres a significant difference, Tumlin said in 2010.
Bruton said there are several ways in which to de-annex property. One is to have the city and county agree to the exchange. The other is for the state legislature to do it. This latter option is the route Edwards sought this year, asking state Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) to write a bill that would allow his property to be moved back into the county, which permits drive-through liquor sales. Cooper agreed to file the bill, but Tumlin asked her to let the City Council consider the matter first out of courtesy, a request she agreed to do.
Standing before the Council on Monday night, Edwards said he would agree to remain in the city and not pursue de-annexation if the city allowed his package store to resume drive-through liquor sales.
Since being prohibited from selling liquor by the drive-through window, Patels business was down 10 to 16 percent since customers simply decided to shop in the county, he said.
King said it makes sense to lift the ban so that the city and county had the same policy on the matter.
Goldstein polled each of the six council members and none objected to revising the ordinance this time around.
Tumlin said after the meeting he would not veto the ordinance change. The fact that Marietta voters earlier this month approved Sunday alcohol sales helped change his mind, Tumlin said.
The Bible Belt seems to have dropped so low that this doesnt offend it as much, Tumlin said.
The City Council is set to vote on the ordinance change on April 11.
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Committee lifts ban on drive thru liquor