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Sugar Hill discusses time restrictions for alcohol sales

SUGAR HILL -- This month's scheduled opening of Sugar Hill's first 24-hour grocery store is forcing the city to address an issue those with round-the-clock grocers must.

Sugar Hill's City Council at its work session Monday discussed during what hours to allow Kroger on Ga. Highway 20 at Suwanee Dam Road to sell beer and wine after its scheduled opening Nov. 18. Essentially, that means creating the city's first alcohol sales ordinance with time restrictions.

Currently, Gwinnett's fourth largest city has ordinances governing hours of consumption and conditions of sale, but not hours of sale. It checked with Duluth, Grayson and Snellville, and found those cities allowed 24-hour grocers to sell from 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. Alcohol package sale is prohibited by state law on Sundays.

Sugar Hill City Attorney Frank Hartley said the city was free to restrict sales to whatever hours it wished, or even allow sales round the clock, except on Sunday.

"There's no requirement you restrict it," Hartley advised the council. "If you want (Kroger) to sell beer and wine 24 hours a day, they can. If you want to limit it, you have to adopt an ordinance."

Sugar Hill plans to vote an amendment into force at its monthly meeting Monday, likely adopting others' 7 a.m. to midnight hours.

Separately Monday, the council reviewed the initial draft of the city's fiscal 2011 budget, which it scheduled for Monday's first of three required public hearings.

Anticipating a property tax revenue shortfall of more than $200,000 and a substantial increase in medical insurance premiums, City Manager Bob Hail outlined the major criteria he used to construct the approximately $28 million budget.

Central to the budget was the $14 million planned downtown street scape and new city hall on West Broad Street, between Peachtree Industrial and Ga. Highway 20. In addition to roughly $8.5 million for the hall, the budget included $4 million for the street scape of wide sidewalks and vintage globe street lamps, as well as $1.5 million for an amenity pond between West Broad and Ga. Highway 20, across from the existing city hall.

Also budgeted was about $400,000 for road improvements and salaries for two additional employees to maintain the city's now 122 acres of parks.