Judge delays alcohol change

SNELLVILLE -- A judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday barring the city of Snellville from issuing licenses to restaurants to pour alcohol on Sundays, officials said.

The order follows the City Council's vote two weeks earlier to adopt an ordinance allowing the sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays. The emergency order was in response to a lawsuit filed by seven individuals on Dec. 23, according to court records.

Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said seven businesses that were granted licenses to pour beer and wine on Sundays will still be allowed to sell the drinks. Two additional businesses that requested licenses Monday cannot be granted permission to pour drinks because of the restraining order, he said.

Oberholtzer said it's his understanding that the 30-day injunction was the minimum action required by the judge.

"They split the baby down the middle," he said.

Since Snellville passed the ordinance, someone decided to reopen a former restaurant in the city specifically because he can now sell alcohol on Sundays, Oberholtzer said.

"That's why I believe this is a frivolous lawsuit," he said. "We are following the law. ... Basically, they're trying to stop progress in Snellville."

The mayor said the current city attorney, a former city attorney and another municipal attorney advised the council that adopting the ordinance was legal, since voters previously approved a referendum allowing the sale of liquor by the drink within the city limits.

Oberholtzer said a hearing on the matter will take place in a month.

A message left for plaintiffs' attorney Richard Stepp at his office was not returned Tuesday afternoon.