NEWS 3 FIRST LOOK: New Savannah Alcohol Ordinance

Alcohol is a big part of life in Savannah, from St. Patrick’s Day to many weekends during the Winter, Fall, Spring or Summer.

But regulating it has become a major issue for the city.

A new ordinance city staff will propose Thursday hopes to change that – and news 3 was given a first look.

“I think the concern with the current ordinance is its not consistent with the Savannah of today,” explains Jennifer Herman, Assistant Savannah City Attorney. “It speaks of restaurants and bars and we see alcohol in a lot of different settings outside of the scope of restaurants and bars and its not regulated.”

Regulation was one of the big reasons the city wants to change the rules when it comes to alcohol.

After a year in staff committee time, neighbors, bar and restaurant owners all had their say in a series of public meetings last September.

Their input was key to various parts of the new ordinance plans.

First on the list, a new live entertainment license.

This would allow bars and restaurants to let 18 to 20 year olds in to listen to live music, but still not drink.

If the establishment doesn’t follow the law, the city could pull that license without taking their alcohol license, and putting them out of business.

Any restaurant or bar employee, including bouncers would service drinks by the glass, bottle or cup, will all have to get a bar card. That is basically a license to serve liquor.

To-go cups would also be allowed in Forsyth Park for special events like Picnic in the Park and St Patrick’s Day.

Anyone will be able to walk from downtown to the park with a “go cup”, but only on those specially designated days.

“I don’t live downtown but if I did I would probably take exception to people running through my neighborhood to get to Forsyth and back with alcohol,” explains Herman.

The city will also make any business serving alcohol carry insurance to protect both their employees and their patrons.

The city believe these are rules will lead to easier regulation and control of all drinks Downtown.

“Its not so much I call myself a restaurant, I call myself a bar,” explains Herman. “What are you doing, what is your activity, what is your conduct, and then we will issue and appropriate license.” and with several different options, it will be easier to enforce.”

The council will hear the proposed ordinance changes Thursday and then vote on it in the coming weeks.

To look at full ordinance go to: Savannah Alcohol Ordinance

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