SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah city leaders could soon be adding more restrictions to places that sell alcohol within the city’s limits.
Thursday, they went over their final revisions to the alcohol beverage ordinance. Home and business owners alike packed the Savannah Civic Center where they got updates on that ordinance as well as the density district ordinance. They got a chance to give their opinion on what alcohol convenience stores should be allowed to sell, and when.
One of the main areas they’re targeting: convenience stores. They want to define what a convenience store is and then put restrictions around them, such as putting distance requirements between them moving forward. The big question is, why should we care that the city is defining what a convenience store is? City officials tell WTOC that in the end, it’s to make your neighborhoods better and safer.
Director of Planning and Urban Design Bridget Lidy says they’ve been working nonstop over the last four months to update the city’s alcohol beverage ordinance. When going over their major updates with residents, the biggest focus actually comes from years of resident feedback.
“The convenience stores issue has come up from many of the neighborhoods, many of the urban neighborhoods, that are out there that are concerned with litter, loitering, quality of life issues that are impacting their neighborhoods negatively,” Lidy said.
Rose McGuire, a Savannah resident on the south side, says she attended the meeting to hear more on targeting convenience stores. She says it will chance the dynamic of her neighborhood.
“I think limiting the number of convenience stores will cut down on crime, especially if they sell alcohol,” McGuire said.
The new ABO would define convenience stores as a retail establishment up to 5,000 square feet, and it would primarily sell food, tobacco items, and possibly beer or wine. It would also establish distance requirements so that the stores aren’t right beside each other. Savannah already has more than 110 of these stores.
“I think we are not looking at lowering the numbers. I think we are looking to put additional standards in place in order to ensure that those convenience stores that are out there that are coming into the marketplace, new convenience stores, will have a higher standard than we currently have.”
The new ABO would also require that anyone employed where alcohol is sold must take alcohol sales training. These new proposed requirements could become permanent as early as October.
“This is a big issue, and it ought to be treated like it’s a big issue.”
Many were very passionate about some of the topics. One woman says she has been giving feedback for years as a homeowner in west Savannah. She just wants to see the city level the playing field when it comes to people drinking and causing problems in residential neighborhoods.
“I do see several things that should help lessen the burden of what happens,” Pamela Oglesby said. “I saw where they are not talking about defining a convenience store number one, number two, making sure as to the size being a part of what will prohibit them from being able to do certain things, particularly with selling beer and wine.”
Thursday’s meetings were the last public input sessions before they take this to city council on April 25.