By REBECCA HAZEN
The City of Trenton Board of Commission and the City of Trenton Planning Commission met on Tuesday, March 1 for a workshop session to further discuss and plan the distilled spirits package sales ordinance.
The Planning Commission, and the City Commission debated and changed much of what was discussed at the previous workshop session in February. Previously, the Planning Commission made the decision that the liquor stores could be located in zones B1 and B3, and BR with approval.
At this meeting, members of the commissions continued to debate the inclusion of zone B1. It was noted that there were so few areas in that zone where a liquor store could go.
“I don’t think it fits the nature of what downtown Trenton wants to be,” Planning Commission member Steven Ryan said.
“I agree. It can be detrimental to the appearance,” Commissioner Monda Wooten said.
It was decided to exclude zone B1, and keep just zones B3 and BR.
The commissioners discussed having a minimum $200,000 in inventory in the store, but ultimately decided against it.
“We don’t regulate any other businesses’ inventory,” Ryan said.
A citizen in attendance noted that having a set inventory amount wouldn’t make sense, partially because the price of alcohol is so wide ranging.
“You could have 50 bottles of $200 alcohol, and that’s $10,000. When a business owner is investing in building a whole new building that’s 3,500 square feet, he’s going to do what he needs to do to stay in business. I don’t think the $200,000 doesn’t matter, because he’s already investing more than a million,” he said.
The commissions also debated a $4,000 or $5,000 fee for a yearly liquor license but did not come to a decision. Georgia state law says the maximum price can be $5,000.
“I say we go $5,000, then we’re done. We’re a governing authority. We want the money. It makes a $1,000 difference for the city,” Wooten said.
The City Commission and the Planning Commission also further debated the number of parking spots to be allowed.
It was decided to have one space for every 100 square feet. Mayor Alex Case noted that the current retail ordinance allows for one space for every 100 square feet. Some thought that would allow for too many spaces for a 3,500 square feet store, but others disagreed.
“Parking spots are analyzed on a peak demand basis,” Ryan said. “Maybe you only see five cars in the liquor store parking lot on a daily basis, but what happens when it is New Year’s Eve and you’ve got 30 people trying to get into the store?”
It was noted that having a larger parking lot would be better for delivery trucks to be able to turn around in, without interfering with other vehicles.
The commissions debated what would be a fair way of getting the license, including the application process, and a possible lottery, but did not come to any definite decisions.
“If you require 3,500 square feet, and say they have a building that’s 2,000 square feet, is that it? Or can they bring it to the council? You’ve got to be able to mediate and make both parties happy. That is what this board and city council is about,” Ryan said.
“You could have an appeal. The appeals board would meet. The inspectors and commissioners would be there,” Case replied.
The two commissions further discussed if there needed to be a limit on the number of stores but did not come to a decision.
It was noted that Tifton divided the city into four zones, and allowed one store in each zone, and a third party drew a license for each zone. That same idea could be applied to Trenton.
“I’m not for one anything, but I think two is fine. And set it so that if our population grows, there can be more added. We have to think about our city policing that,” Wooten said. “You don’t think that a liquor store is not going to create more crime?”
“If we have a liquor store, it needs to be nice, upscale. I want to see rendering and floor plans. My vote is for a max of two,” Planning Commission member Ryan Faircloth said.
“I think with a city as small as we are, we’re not going to be able to legally get more than three. I don’t see there is a point in having a hard number because we’re so restrictive as is,” Planning Commission member Philip York said.
Commissioner Mike Norris also said that there shouldn’t be a limit. He said to let the businesses have the chance to compete with each other.
“If you’ve got five liquor stores, they won’t all survive. The best two or three managed stores will survive,” Commissioner Mike Norris said.
The City of Trenton Commissioners and the Planning Commission agreed to meet again for a workshop session on Tuesday, March 15 at 5:30 p.m., a day after the City Commission meeting on the 14th.
“We’ve got more homework to do, but we’re getting closer,” Case said.