Hartwell Passes New Alcohol Ordinance

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

The City of Hartwell has passed a new alcohol ordinance that some local leaders hope will bring more businesses, and revenue to the downtown area.

At their regular meeting recently, the Hartwell City Council passed the ordinance after the second reading.

Under the new ordinance, the city will issue several different types of alcohol licenses depending on the event or business and what type of alcohol would be sold.

One license would allow the sale of beer only, another for wine only and another liquor by the drink.

Hartwell Downtown Developement Authority Board Chair Gene Fraley said the ordinance is great news for the city.

Fraley said the new fees or liquor and beer/wine ordinances, more new restaurants and pubs will hopefully be interested in locating downtown.

“We are trying to create a more relaxed and open feeling in our downtown and would love to see some of the old buildings with living space upstairs and and restaurants downstairs in the downtown area,” Fraley said. “If there was more a cafe feeling on the outside with umbrellas and tables and chairs set up, people could sit outside and have a glass of wine or beer. Before that was totally prohibited.”

Fraley said now that would be allowed and the DDA is hoping speciality restaurants and shop would be interested in setting up shop on the square.

“In the event that someone wanted to come in and open a wine and cheese store and have what we call a corking of a bottle of wine in their store, prior to the city changing it (ordinance) that was not allowed,” Fraley said. “But now they can get a license to allow them to uncork a bottle of wine in their store. So, there’s a possibility now that we can attract those types of businesses to come to our downtown area now.”

Another part of the ordinance allows the sale of beer and wine at specialty events, such as festivals.

Fraley said this will open up a whole new area for Chamber and DDA-sponsored events.

“We’ve been working on some art festivals that we wanted to bring to the downtown, but in speaking to some pubs and breweries that wanted to come, we couldn’t do it because the city didn’t have a license for that.  The city basically is going to charge us a one-time fee so we can do it four times a year where we have beer and wine, not alcohol, but beer and wine,” he said.

Under the new ordinance, the city will charge $500 for a beer license, $300 for a wine license, and $2,000 for a liquor by the drink license.

Also, civic and non-profit groups will pay and additional $50 event fee.

Fraley said the DDA hopes to put on an Oktoberfest event in the fall of 2014.