By Nick Natario
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WJCL) – Savannah stands apart from many places across the country. Not just with its beauty, but alcohol policies.
It’s one of a handful of places where you can drink booze, in public, in a “to-go cup” downtown. But city leaders are worried their outdated ordinance might be creating a problem.
“This is really the beginning of a process,” Savannah Management Services Bureau Chief Sean Brandon.
For two hours leaders laid out the proposal. One change, anyone under 21 couldn’t be in a bar or restaurant after ten on Fridays and Saturdays.
An idea met with resistance from some owners.
“Then I propose that the city provide me with a fee annually to compensate for that lost revenue,” said Crystal Beer Parlor owner John Nichols.
“This is a military town,” said Georgia Restaurant Association representative Mike Vaquer.
“Are we going to tell a 20 year old G.I., who is out on the Southside and wants to go into Applebee’s to eat at 11 o’clock at night that he can’t do so without his parents?”
But officials say something needs to be done because safety is a concern. Officers showed statistics on how alcohol creates a problem on the weekends.
“These are arrests on just Friday and Saturday nights and you can see those two nights of the week account for the majority of arrests of the week,” said Lt. David Gay. Officials also want to do away with employee bar cards.
They say it’s a hassle and would prefer owners make their employees take a third party online course instead. Another possible change, where “to-go cups” are allowed.
Leaders want to now include Forsyth Park. But some neighbors questioned this decision.
“If savannah is pushing to get a higher end tourist, that’s not the way to do it,” said Savannah resident Bob Rosenwald.
City leaders stressed the alcohol ordinance is months, if not another year, away from being changed.
The next round of meetings will take place Thursday, Sept. 18, in the Bryan room at the Savannah Civic Center at 1 p.m and 6 p.m. Watch the video.