9 cities set to vote on Sunday sales

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

GWINNETT -- About half of Gwinnett's cities are now slated to vote on Sunday sales.

Three city councils voted this week to place referenda on November ballots to consider a new Georgia law that would allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Duluth, Norcross and Sugar Hill bring the total to nine -- more than half of Gwinnett's 15 cities.

"We need to see how it impacts business," said Norcross Mayor Pro Tem Ross Kaul, who voted against the measure in his city, only because he wanted to take more time to consider the idea.

But the new law is popular in Gwinnett in a year when all cities are scheduled to have an election.

Loganville's council was one of the first cities in the state to move forward even before Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Sunday package sales bill into law earlier this year. Since then, officials in Braselton, Dacula, Lilburn, Suwanee and Auburn have signed on.

Lawrenceville's council is expected to talk about the issue in a work session next week, and leaders in Snellville, Grayson and Buford have about another month to decide.

"Rest assured, Buford's merchants will be given a level playing field," City Chairman Philip Beard said, adding that the city hasn't had any requests and he does not know if the matter will make November's ballot. "It's not really an issue here in Buford."

Gwinnett County commissioners have not yet decided on whether to have a countywide vote on the issue. The county regularly has elections in even-numbered years, although officials are expected to call a November vote to consider an extension to a sales tax that funds school construction.

During Monday's council meeting, Duluth's board also considered some changes to alcohol regulations that could clear the way for a new business.

City Manager Phil McLemore said a businessman approached the city about a concept, where people could choose specialty beers from kegs that would then be transferred into half-gallon or gallon containers. The concept is similar to a wine-tasting venue, although beer tasting is currently not allowed under Georgia law, he said.

The council approved the change, allowing the beer to be packaged on-site instead of off-site, McLemore said.