Busy City Council meeting ends with questions


City Hall was once again the scene of much discussion concerning alcohol ordinances as the council, the mayor and the city attorney struggled to straighten out the fine points of when, where and how the public may imbibe. The March meeting of Monday, March 4, 2024, sailed through a full agenda in record time thanks to preparation from a previous workshop meeting. However, things ran aground when the final item under new business was addressed. But prior to that, under old business, the council unanimously approved an alcohol beverage license for Denise Miles dba Lounge 2020 at 406 Rentz Street. Council also approved change orders for the Karrh Theater project by a vote of 4-2, with Collins and Quarterman opposing.

Moving into new business, the council unanimously approved plans for the “First Saturday” activities downtown, in April. Also approved were repairs for a sewer lift station and expenditures of $32,000 for operations at the Inert Landfill. Unanimous agreement authorized the contracting with Turnipseed Engineers for a Lead Service Line Inventory which would total $100,455.00 for Phase I and II. This survey is required by the Environmental Protection Division under the Lead and Copper Rule and must be completed by October 16, 2024. Turnipseed Engineers has applied for a funding application from GEFA on behalf of the city which is now pending. Council approved the closing of the 100 Block of North Green Street for activities of the Arts Council. Also approved were the purchase of a new tag reader and an agreement to authorize participation in the State Mutual Assistance Agreement.

A motion allowing for a change in the meeting’s agenda had been passed at the outset of the meeting and allowed for council to consider changing the regular meeting site from City Hall to the classroom at the Swainsboro Fire Department Headquarters Building. The motion was agreed to. Council also considered a request from business owners on East Main Street to help with the expense of upgrading their connections to the city sewer system. A majority of council determined that such expense must be borne by the property owner, and a motion to provide assistance from the city failed to pass. This brought the meeting agenda to final consideration of the updated city alcohol ordinance. City Attorney Jon Levis again led the discussion of changes to the local code and questions from council consumed an extended period including the issue of delivery of alcohol by paid drivers such as Uber or Lyft. The status of the Swainsboro Golf and Country Club and the Sunday sale of alcohol was also questioned. A refusal to vote by one councilmember stemmed from allegedly not being informed of changes to the ordinances made after the public meetings. In view of the continuing unsettled nature of the council’s position on the alcohol ordinance, it was decided that council would have a called meeting by Zoom at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5. It was not clear if the approval process could continue at that point or whether a new series of public meetings would be required before council could vote for final approval.