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Cities consider licensing liquor by the drink

LAWRENCEVILLE - Alcohol has been an issue in politics since Prohibition, but in 2005 it's making quite a spectacle.

On Nov. 8, voters in three cities in Gwinnett and Barrow will consider licensing liquor by the drink.

Loganville, Statham and Berkeley Lake could become the latest cities to add pour licenses.

In 2002, Auburn and Dacula had liquor votes. The next year, Norcross passed the measure, and Snellville did it a year ago.

In another city, a referendum will focus on taxes.

Here are a look at the issues on local ballots:

Loganville

The liquor fight has been on in Loganville for a decade.

In 1995, the measure was defeated by 27 votes. In 1997, only 11 votes determined the referendum's fate.

Officials say the race this time around could be determined by voter turnout.

Berkeley Lake

While Loganville's restaurants have been clamoring for liquor licenses for a decade, Berkeley Lake's council wants to have that problem.

The city is currently without restaurants, but some residents are hoping liquor-availability could draw some their way.

Construction on the city's lone commercial development at North Berkeley Lake Road and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard is expected to get under way in the spring.

Statham

In Barrow, Statham's situation is between Loganville's and Berkeley Lake's.

The small city has four restaurants - Sunflower Cafe, the Old House Restaurant, Tacos and a Subway - but wants to attract larger sit-down fare along the lines of a Chili's, Applebee's, or even an Outback Steakhouse. Hotels could be more likely to come to the area if they could sell liquor as well.

The City Council already voted not to allow the sale of liquor on Sundays, so voters will choose if the licenses would be available for Monday through Saturday sales only.

Buford

On Buford ballots, voters will consider a tax exemption for those age 70 and above as well as a bump in the homestead exemption for every homeowner. The Legislature voted to allow the referendum earlier this year.

City Commission Chairman Philip Beard said the higher homestead exemption could mean anyone with a house valued at $100,000 or less wouldn't have to pay property taxes. Owners of houses valued at $180,000, which is the average in the Buford ZIP code, could have their bills cut by $600.

Gwinnett already has a senior exemption for school taxes.