Savannah City Council to consider alcohol change on quadricycle businesses

Savannah City Council to consider alcohol change on quadricycle businesses

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Council will consider putting the brakes on part of the experience for patrons of businesses that use quadricycles.

You have probably seen them rolling around Savannah’s Historic District, the vehicles that carry visitors and residents alike from bars to restaurants using pedal power.

Patrons can drink and pedal in between locations right now, but Savannah City Council will be considering changing that aspect of the business at Thursday’s council meeting.

On the agenda is a motion to amend regulations that would eliminate the consumption of alcohol on quadricycles within the city limits.

"It was not a huge surprise that it has come up to us again, it's a few things to deal with and we're doing everything we can in regards to the business to work with the city on these issues and try and find a balance where we are abiding by the rules and keeping other businesses and residents happy as well,” Slow Ride Savannah Operations Manager Hannah Armes said.

Armes added, “The bars and restaurants we take these people to, we’re a huge level of business for them as well. So they are concerned as well cause it’s not just going to affect us but it will be affecting the service industry as a whole.”

You can read a statement from the owner of Savannah Slow Ride, Samantha Meier, below:

"I am a small business owner. I am an entrepreneur. I am a tax paying citizen of Savannah. I create jobs in a fun and friendly environment that pay above minimum wage. Yet, I am being targeted by the City of Savannah and City Council. You all should be asking, why?

When I first started my business more than 8 years ago, I did my research and invested in a business that was legal, was inspected and licensed by the City of Savannah and allowed to operate under the City ordinance structure. I even invited council members, many of whom still sit on the council today, to take part in my inaugural ride. It was a great day, of which I am proud.

Since opening, my business model has not changed. I have done exactly what I said I was going to do. I have continued to invest in my business, the people who work for me, and this city. I now employ 20 individuals and have paid more than $500k in taxes to the City of Savannah and have spent more than 6 times that supporting other small businesses in our City.

Unfortunately, I have also spent countless hours and close to $30k in attorney fees defending my right to operate my business and the livelihood of the people I employ. At my own expense, I have voluntarily worked with the City to create a noise ordinance that is measurable and enforceable, and have suggested routes to avoid heavily residential areas. Yet, the City has not actioned any of these suggested improvements.

Instead, amid an election cycle, they have proposed a change to the alcohol ordinance, not the noise ordinance, with my business as the sole target. The proposed change singles out quadracycles from hearses, horse drawn carriages and trollies. Unfortunately this is not surprising, but should raise concern. This is an attempt by City Council to target a specific business, in this case, mine.

It’s a slippery slope when we allow ordinances to be crafted targeting a business not based on facts or a history of violations but on the sole basis that members of City Council do not like it. The proposed change to the alcohol ordinance is not only unconstitutional, it will do nothing to address any real issues which are all related to noise. In fact, it will likely have the opposite effect. It will add to litter, loitering and disturbances on the street. As many Savannah citizens have pointed out, the enactment of this unconstitutional ban will force me to fight for my rights and for my employees in court. This will only cost taxpayers money that could be better spent on real issues such as crime, poverty reduction, education, or something more important than City Council’s attempt to bully a small business.

The target is on my back today, but who’s to say it won’t be on yours tomorrow?"

We will bring you the latest details from Thursday’s council meeting.

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