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Fayetteville City Council codifies package store referendum

Fayetteville residents voted in favor of a package store referendum in the city’s Nov. 2 election, allowing stores to sell distilled spirits and liquor for the first time in the city’s history. Fayetteville’s city council started the process of codifying the amendment at their Nov. 18 meeting, clarifying several perquisites required to open a package store in the city.

In order to obtain a license for package sales in Fayetteville, buildings must reside in commercial or mixed-use zones and meet a minimum of 5,000 square feet of “floor area” space and have $500,000 worth of inventory. There is no limit on the amount permitted licenses for the city.

“Licenses for package sales will be permitted in commercial or mixed-use zones, subject to state guidelines for distances between package stores, churches, and schools, and shall occupy a minimum of 5,000 square feet of floor area and $500,000 of inventory. Restrictions are added that will prohibit package stores from offering services such as check cashing, wire transfers/money orders, and lottery sales.” the Fayetteville package store amendment reads.

Fayetteville Mayor Edward Johnson said the limits on square footage and inventory requirements are a measure of safety for the city to ensure that only trusted retailers endeavor into the distilled spirits market.

“What I hear is that the council and the staff feel that the restrictions that we put make it counter prohibitive for there to be a flood of applicants wanting to open up package stores in Fayetteville.” Johnson said.

The referendum passed with relative ease on election night with a vote of 1299-467, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t residents that disagree with it.

Michael Mumper, President of the Georgia Alcohol Policy Alliance, voiced his concern for the city’s new law, asking the council to pause for some time before adopting a package store amendment.

“I’m concerned because I do take a public health background approach to this. It’s not a moral issue, it’s just public health. Science has proven that the more alcohol is made available in the community, the more associated harms will result. Did the alcohol industry help draft this 39-page ordinance?” Mumper said when addressing the city council.

Mumper also asked the council to pause before amending their current ordinance, something Mayor Johnson said would not happen.

“I would not like to see us pause. We have been having a discussion on the idea of having package stores in the city of Fayetteville for almost two years. I think we’ve done as much research as we can. While I agree that the statistics and the scientific data may indicate that there may be an increase in [alcohol-related] activities, I think at this point, we have put the referendum to the citizens. I would not recommend that we pause on this.” Johnson said.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the amendment to the ordinance, moving along the process of allowing package stores to open in Fayetteville.

By Michael Cuneo

Michael Cuneo is a news and sports reporter for the Fayette County News. Michael graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Journalism in 2020. In his off time, Michael enjoys torturing himself as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Follow Michael on twitter @michaelcune