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Earliest Sunday to buy beer in Gwinnett is Nov. 20

LAWRENCEVILLE -- People planning a party on Sunday still need to stock up on beer and wine, even after referenda were approved by big margins in 13 Gwinnett cities to allow Sunday package sales.

Some cities still need to vote on new ordinances to set up the new law, and in some locales, store managers have to get permits. Those in unincorporated Gwinnett have to wait until after a March election, which commissioners are expected to approve Tuesday.

While the situation varies in every local city, one thing is uniform in Gwinnett: no one can buy beer and wine in stores this Sunday.

"It doesn't say we are going to do it right now," Lilburn City Clerk Kathy Maner said of the referendum in her city that passed by a nearly 2-to-1 margin Tuesday. "There will be issues (officials) want to hammer out."

There the city's Alcohol Review Board is expected to begin work on regulations at its meeting Nov. 17, and the City Council will likely take up the matter Dec. 12, she said.

The law is likely to go into effect Jan. 1 in Lilburn, she added.

Many other cities adopted ordinances when they placed the measure on ballots. They are preparing to allow sales to begin in a week and a half.

That is the case for Grayson, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Snellville and Sugar Hill.

In Loganville, the law goes into effect 10 days after the election results are sent to the Secretary of State. City Manager Bill Jones said that will likely make Nov. 27 the first Sunday where people can buy beer and wine in stores and at a restaurant.

Duluth's City Council will take up the matter Monday, as will Braselton's City Council.

Suwanee's City Council is expected to adjust its alcohol ordinance in a special meeting next Thursday, in time to allow sales on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Auburn's City Council meeting also has a meeting Nov. 17.

"We've got to do an ordinance to codify" the decision, Auburn City Manager Ron Griffith said, adding that businesses would likely have to pay a fee. "All of this just came over in the last 24 hours," so the exact steps are unclear, he said.

At least one city, other than Lilburn, may not allow Sunday sales until early next year.

Dacula Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said his City Council will discuss the issue at its Dec. 1 session, but he isn't sure when the regulations will be settled.

"I hope earlier than later," he said.

Many city officials said they are reaching out to grocery and convenience store managers to explain the new laws and make sure six-packs aren't sold before the law allows.

But in one town, that matter is moot.

Of all the big margins of victory allowing Sunday sales in Gwinnett cities, Berkeley Lake voters gave its referendum one of the biggest, with more than 85 percent in favor of allowing package sales on the Sabbath.

Yet, the city does not have a single business that will be impacted by the decision.

Still, leaders said, they are ready to allow package sales seven days a week as soon as a store opens in the city.