Friday, February 24, 2012

Stricter license requirements sought for bars, package stores

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Last night's turnout for a public hearing at City Hall on a proposed re-write of Atlanta's alcohol code was modest, but those who spoke were passionate and seemed to represent neighborhood concerns from across the city.

Among the requests and complaints heard from the podium:

• Stop granting temporary liquor licenses to new bars or clubs that have replaced an existing business

• Crack down on convenience stores selling glass pipes and other druggie paraphernalia

• Yank licenses from bars and stores that have high numbers of on-site crimes or violations

• Give the Neighborhood Planning Units more say in approving new licenses

I can tell you now, that last one is unlikely to happen — and that's as it should be. NPUs are given a chance to review license applications and make recommendations, but neither the License Review Board nor the mayor — who ultimately approves all licenses — is required to follow those recommendations. The system is designed that way for a couple of reasons. The official reason is that the LRB has a citywide perspective on the booze landscape and is better equipped to ensure that the alcohol code is applied in a legally responsible and uniform manner. The unofficial reason is that some NPUs are hotbeds of NIMBYism and can't be trusted to fairly consider applications.

That said, the NPUs do represent voters, and so their complaints will likely be listened to by city officials. It's early in the code revision process, but we plan to follow the issue, so stay tuned…

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