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Alpharetta moves to ease limits on alcohol licenses for elected officials

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Alpharetta City Council forum Brian Will

Brian Will makes a final pitch for why voters should elect him to serve on the City Council during an Oct. 27 political forum at Alpharetta City Hall. He went on to defeat Michael Crupi and Abu Jalloh for the seat.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The Alpharetta City Council began clearing the way for a smooth transition of power in January when two new members are set to be sworn in.

The council voted on first reading Nov. 15 to rescind portions of the city’s alcohol beverages ordinance that might have created problems for local restaurateur and Councilman-elect Brian Will.

Chapter 4 of the City Code currently prohibits issuance of alcohol licenses to any city employee or elected or appointed city official or to any member of their immediate family. The new ordinance, scheduled for final approval Nov. 29, would eliminate the restriction on elected officials and most city employees and members of appointed boards.

It was the second time this year the measure has been brought before the City Council.

In June, the proposal failed by a 3-3 vote.

At that time, Will, who had already declared as a candidate for City Council, said he was disappointed by the vote. He cited an opinion from then-City Attorney Sam Thomas who called the ordinance antiquated and in conflict with the city charter.

Will operates nine restaurants, three of them in Alpharetta.

The charter lists only four qualifications for those seeking elected office in the city. It requires they must:

• Have established residence in the city for six months.

• Be 21 years of age.

• Maintain residence within the city during their term.

• Be qualified to vote in the city.

Post 2 Councilman Ben Burnett co-sponsored the latest effort to amend the ordinance. Burnett recused himself from the vote in June because, he said, he had announced he was not seeking re-election, and Will was running for his seat.

The revised ordinance bans only specific city employees from acquiring a liquor license or having a financial interest in an establishment that has been issued a license. Those positions include: the city administrator, the assistant city administrator, any employee of the Public Safety or Community Development departments or their spouse or minor children.

Still unresolved is an issue raised by Councilwoman Karen Richard back in June.

Richard, who did not attend the Nov. 15 meeting, said that under the city’s ethics code, an elected official who has an alcohol beverage license would have to abstain from voting on whether to issue liquor licenses to other operators in the city.

Richard said that if four members of the City Council were licensed to sell alcohol, the seven-member body would never have enough eligible members to constitute a quorum, and no liquor licenses would be issued.

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