The proposed ordinance eliminates the word “firearms” from a list of items whose sales could be suspended in case of a local disaster declared by the county commission chairman. The wording was questioned in a Jan. 18 letter hand delivered to commission Chairman Marty Smith by James Camp, of Temple, representing GeorgiaCarry.org.
The proposed ordinance was presented to the BOC at its Wednesday work session. It will likely be brought up for vote at Tuesday’s 6 p.m. regular monthly meeting.
In another proposal for Tuesday’s meeting, a change is planned to the county’s alcohol ordinance to allow the creation of farm wineries within the county. Several grape growers are working toward the establishment of a wine industry for the county, but County Attorney Cynthia Daley said the current law doesn’t allow for farm wineries.
Speaking on the disaster ordinance change, Daley told the work session, “In reviewing the ordinance, nobody could come up with a scenario where the suspension of firearms sales would be needed. There could be a situation where it could conflict with Second Amendment rights. I’m recommending we remove the word ‘firearms.’”
As originally worded, the ordinance says, in times of local disasters or emergencies, the commission chairman could “suspend the sale, distribution, dispensing or transportation of firearms, alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustible products and can close businesses which sell them.”
Tim Padgett, county Emergency Management Agency director, told the BOC that the law dates back about 11 years and was based on a model ordinance provided by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. He said the law requires the county commission chairman to first declare a local disaster before it’s passed on to the governor for state declaration of a disaster.
The letter from Camp asked for a response within 30 days. GeorgiaCarry.org has filed legal court cases against similar ordinances in other locations and has been successful in many cases of getting the laws removed, according to the organization’s website.
As for the proposed alcohol ordinance change, District 5 Commissioner Kevin Jackson suggested the change after a grape grower in his district wanted a license for a winery and found out that the current alcohol ordinance won’t allow it.
“We have people with vineyards and my thought is we would allow for the tasting, sales and marketing of what they’re producing,” Jackson said. “But we don’t want to open the door to honky tonks, scattered all across the county.”
District 1 Commissioner Trent North also suggested the law might be worded so that the winery would be allowed to also have a restaurant and bed and breakfast, similar to resort settings in other parts of the state.
Daley said the alcohol ordinance, as a whole, needs “an overhaul” because it’s outdated. She suggested the county’s entire alcohol ordinance be changed, but said the winery provision could simply be put into the current ordinance.
“A farm winery must be licensed first by the state, then by the local authority,” Daley said.
She said a fee is required and she suggested $1,500, based on a comparison of other counties, “but you can decide what you want it to be.”
She also suggested the creation of an alcohol commission, as a middle ground, where the BOC wouldn’t have to deal with every license, but would handle only appeals. But the commissioners rejected that idea and Daley said she would rewrite the ordinance without that provision.
Other items on Tuesday’s BOC agenda include:
• a proposed budget amendment to increase revenues and appropriations on certain fiscal year line items amounting to $50,023;
• a request for a conditional use permit by owner/applicant Helen Eidson to divide 1.75 acres at 668 Bell Road, Bremen, with an existing mobile home, from a 73.34-acre tract;
• a request by owner/applicant Harry Lawson to amend the zoning ordinance and map for a 2-acre tract, located at 6579 Mt. Zion Road, Waco, from agricultural (A) zoning to commercial (C) zoning.