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Snellville delays call for alcohol referendum

SNELLVILLE -- By a vote of 4-2 on Monday on Snellville council members and mayor Jerry Oberholtzer decided to postpone the call for a Sunday alcohol sales referendum.

The city asked for a re-trial on the issue, citing new evidence not previously heard by Judge Mark Lewis. Lewis stopped Sunday alcohol sales with his Jan. 27 ruling, stating that the council vote allowing Sunday sales "disenfranchised voters."

Last Friday the city was granted an April 30 hearing, again before Judge Lewis. The judge could grant the re-trial and actually hold it on the same day, according to Oberholtzer. Lewis could also hear the new evidence and still not uphold the City Council vote allowing Sunday sales.

Because of the city's appeal of the Jan. 27 decision, Councilman Tom Witts asked his colleagues to postpone the call for a referendum on the matter, stating that starting such action would imply that they do not have faith in the result of the upcoming second trial.

"We feel very strongly that we have a good position," Witts said.

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz said that she disagreed, stating that she wants the city to hold a referendum because it's the right thing to do. She also cited an approximate $40,000 price tag for the appeal process, as opposed to the $8,000 cost of a second referendum (the first was held in 2004, with the results overturned).

"You're talking about a long, drawn-out process that will cost the city a lot of money," said Kautz.

Councilman Mike Sabbagh added that a long trial process could make the city miss critical deadlines with respect to properly calling for a vote.

Oberholtzer refuted Kautz's statements concerning the cost of a trial.

"I'm not afraid of a referendum, but I think once the judge looks at new evidence, we'll win," said the mayor.

Kautz and Sabbagh cast the two votes not supporting postponement.

Farmer's market on the way

Planning for the Snellville Farmer's Market is well under way, with the first market scheduled to be held on June 5 on the Town Green in Snellville.

The farmer's market committee has been meeting for about two months now, according to Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Bender, who has spearheaded the initiative.

"It's going to be a great thing for the city, a great way for local farmers to sell their goods," Bender said, adding that vendors are already signing up to participate.