MILTON, Ga. — Milton is considering updates to its alcohol ordinance that could pave the way for micro-breweries in the city and for existing businesses to take advantage of new alcohol licenses. The updates, discussed at the City Council’s Sept. 16 work session, could attract new businesses to the area and pad city coffers through additional license fees.
Milton is considering adding a micro-brewery/micro-distillery license and allowing for craft beer and wine markets, which sell packaged alcohol and allow on-site consumption. The city is also mulling relaxing conditions of a regulation that requires a business with on-site alcohol consumption to have a 50/50 balance of food to alcohol sales.
Economic Development Manager Sarah LaDart said the city could change the ration to 70 percent alcohol sales with 30 percent food.
“When you have a person order a $16 glass of wine and two, $6 tacos, its hard to mandate,” she said.
The city currently has licenses that allow for businesses such as salons to provide customers with limited beer or wine, but the ordinance leaves out businesses that sell food who want to offer limited alcohol pouring, which may be addressed in the updated regulations.
Additional revenue could be generated by the city adding a Sunday pouring license. LaDart said Milton’s neighbors have the separate authorization to supplement the traditional pouring license.
The city is also looking to clarify the ordinance and bring it up to speed with state regulations.
“We list times of day that sales are allowed in multiple places around ordinance, and that should be in one spot,” LaDart said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for a business owner to look and be able to clearly see what the can and cannot do. And as state law changes, we have to adapt to that as well. Perhaps when we created our regulations years ago, the state didn’t allow certain things it now allows.”
The city’s regulations have hindered some alcohol-based businesses looking to move to the city, LaDart said, and a key to attracting those firms is ensuring the alcohol ordinance lines up with the city’s zoning principles. While the city can create an alcohol license, it is a moot point if the city’s zoning code does not allow for that business, she said.
The push to update the regulations were spurred by the city meeting with local developers and leasing agents.
“We are hoping that by taking this look and talking with leasing agents, developers and city staff to talk about what issues we’ve had, what licenses have been coming through and what are leasing agents seeing as trends, we can make sure what we write today does [need adjusting] in five years,” LaDart said.
Mayor Joe Lockwood expressed his backing for some updates to bring Milton up to par with its neighbors and capitalize on the city’s limited commercial areas. He said safety is a priority, but also supports quality of life endeavors for the residents to enjoy.
“I’d like to see us on the cutting edge of having responsible ordinances,” he said at the work session.
Residents will also get their opportunity to weigh-in on the potential updates at two public hearings on Oct. 1. The hearings will take place at Community Place adjacent to City Hall from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
“We now have a feel for what the City Council is open to, and we’d like to have residents and current business owners tell us what they are comfortable with,” LaDart said.