LAWRENCEVILLE - Go ahead and raise a glass in Loganville.
After failing three times since 1995, residents voted Tuesday to allow liquor to be sold by the drink, passing the measure by a solid margin.
More than 1,000 people came to the polls and voted 620-398 to allow the sale of spirits in restaurants and bars. The turnout was the highest Loganville has seen for a non-mayoral race, elections supervisor Michelle Deaton said.
Deaton said she had to turn away about 50 people who wanted to vote for liquor by the drink in the referendum, but did not live within Loganville's city limits. About 10 who had Loganville mailing addresses were very upset that they could not vote, she said.
The ability to sell liquor is a useful tool for economic development, City Councilman Chuck Bagley said. He said the measure will increase the incomes of people who work in the city's restaurants and the quality of businesses that choose to come there.
"The citizens of Loganville are looking for change, and this is the change they want," he said.
But Tom Foskey, the associate pastor of Loganville's Corinth Baptist Church, said he thinks it's a sad day in the city.
"We already had beer and wine. I just think it's one more step in the wrong direction," he said. "No drug ever caused more problems than alcohol in the history of the world."
Loganville voters also approved a redevelopment powers referendum, passing the measure 563 votes to 427. Bagley said while the city doesn't have any blight now, the referendum will help redevelopment in the future.
"It's one of those tools you don't need it every day or every year, but when you have it, it's nice to have it," he said. "When you don't, you're dead in the water."