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Duluth to mull new alcohol law

DULUTH -- Alcohol is on the minds of many of Gwinnett's elected officials, with several cities taking recent looks at laws to cater to connoisseurs.

This week, Duluth will become the most recent to gaze at a new law, this one allowing drinks on the town square in plastic cups, much like River Street in the city of Savannah.

The city allows people to bring alcohol to the Town Green during certain special events, but City Administrator Phil McLemore said a new idea would open up the central business district to allow people to window shop after leaving local restaurants with a cup in hand.

The proposal, which will be before the Alcohol Review Board for a recommendation Friday, would allow mixed drinks, beer or wine in plastic cups after 5 p.m. on weekdays and after noon on weekends until 30 minutes after the last restaurant closes.

"We hope it will encourage more people to window shop and look around and do more after they eat at a restaurant," he said. "It would hopefully bring in more revenue, but the bigger picture is to create a place people would like to go and attract more businesses to downtown."

The idea, which could also require a change to the city's zoning map to include two more Main Street area restaurants in the central business district, has not been scheduled for a City Council vote.

Less than a month after a city referendum revived Sunday liquor sales in Snellville, the City Council there is looking at another alcohol ordinance to boost the city.

During a recent work session, council members talked about the possibility of allowing drinking in confined areas at public events such as concerts on its town green. According to City Manager Russell Treadway, there are a lot of options being bandied about, including allowing alcohol in City Hall when the community room is rented out.

The discussions began, Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said, after nearby Grayson voted to allow a beer festival to be held in the city. Tickets go on sale beginning Sunday for the Grayson Blues and Brews Craft Beer Festival.

"If you've got Grayson trying to do it, that's a wake-up call," he said of the small town. "I think the cities now are competing for that entertainment factor."

Oberholtzer said the small green in front of City Hall has become a popular gathering place, after recent concerts and the city's farmer's market were held there.

"People want to come down for that sense of community," he said, adding that he wants local businesses to be able to take advantage of that.

"We're looking at ways to encourage business," he said. "It's a different world than it was say five years ago, and we're all competing for that limited market."