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Bannister's work part of Sunday sales case

LAWRENCEVILLE -- An affidavit by Gwinnett's chairman is part of Snellville officials' case for a new trial involving Sunday liquor sales.

Chairman Charles Bannister authored a 1987 law change during his time in the Georgia General Assembly that was part of the city's argument that liquor-by-the-drink could be extended to Sundays without a referendum.

City Council members voted to allow Sunday service after years of debating the issue, but a group of local residents sued, saying Georgia law requires a vote. Last month, Judge Mark Lewis concurred, but the city filed a motion Wednesday seeking a new trial based on the history of the legislation.

"Once the key question of whether a community desired to see alcohol by the drink has been approved by a referendum, the governing authority was given a choice of methods to then change the hours of sale to include Sunday," Bannister's affidavit, filed Wednesday, said. "The option of H.B. 812 was to save on the time and expense of a referendum if the governing authority wanted to change the hours of sale."

Bannister said Wednesday that he did not want to argue the city's case but simply explained the intent of the law, which was passed for counties over 160,000 a year after Gwinnett residents voted to allow liquor-by-the-drink sales on Sundays.

"I'm not involved," he said. "What I did was 20 years ago."