Tybee residents ask council to expand drinking ban, council continues with ban

Tybee residents ask council to expand drinking ban, council continues with ban
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Some Tybee island residents are asking the council to expand a drinking ban to cover the entirety of spring break travel weeks.

One person we spoke with says the ban unfairly targets the African American students. This year's alcohol ban affects two weekends in April for Orange Crush. Some on Tybee say it's unfair.

"The ban needs to be for everyone. They want to have a ban for just Orange Crush. That's ridiculous," Julia Pearce said.

Pearce and several others are encouraging council members to expand it to cover all spring break travel times. A letter, written by Pearce, was read aloud at Thursday's city council meeting.

"We're asking them to expand it so we don't look like a redneck town," Pearce said.

In January, the council decided not to impose a drinking ban. Then in a last-minute switch, the council approved the April ban in a meeting last month. The mayor wanted the ban to cover all spring break travel periods including next week when Georgia public colleges are out.

"I think it's important to avoid the perception that anything is racially motivated," said Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman. "I don't think anything the council did was racially motivated, but I wanted to avoid the perception."

"Expand it for spring break," Pearce said. "A group of us don't understand why that's so hard."

Pearce said the ban sends a bad message to people who may be visiting Tybee. She feels it brings unnecessary exposure to the island.

"Why would they want all of that confusion down here? All you got to do is make the law for everybody. That's just justice," she said.

Ultimately, the mayor wants to send a message to all college students: Don't visit Tybee for spring break.

"What I want to avoid is college students saying, 'hey Tybee still allows it', and then we have a problem," Buelterman said.

The mayor said his goal is to get the rest of council to recognize that. It could be too late to change anything this year.

"I don't think anything is going to change this year. It may end up changing next year, but I don't think they're going to anything to change the ban on alcohol this year," Tybee Island Mayor Pro Tem Barry Brown said.

Brown believes city councilmembers should look at other factors and not focus solely on alcohol.

"They think the alcohol is the answer to all of the problems, but it's not necessarily the answer to everything because we have other issues to deal with as well. We have drugs, guns, and everything else during this event," Brown said. "I wish they would go back to amplifying music and leave the alcohol alone, because that not only affects beach-goers, it affects everyone on the island. It's supposed to be nice weather those weekends too, so it also kind of irritates the residents of the island."

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