Hinesville has contracted with the Liberty County Board of Elections to hold special elections Nov. 5 for voters to decide two issues, according to City Manager Billy Edwards.
Edwards said registered voters in Hinesville will be able to vote yes or no to allow the “governing authority of Hinesville” to permit and regulate package alcohol sales by retailers of malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits on Sundays between 12:30-11:30 p.m.
He said if more than 50 percent of the city’s registered voters vote yes, that will authorize the city council to decide whether to change the city ordinance to allow for Sunday sales of alcohol. He emphasized, however, if the majority of voters choose to approve the sale, it does not make such sales automatic.
He said the city council could decide not to authorize the sale, but he doubted they would do that. It was council members who asked for the special election during this year’s annual planning workshop. He said they were responding to numerous requests by residents and local business owners in their districts.
“This (part of the) special election deals with package sale of alcohol, which can be consumed off-premises,” Edwards said. “The council could decide to allow sales only in grocery stores or convenient stores. They could also decide to restrict sales to beer and wine only.”
If the referendum is approved by voters, he said the council would meet and decide whether to approve Sunday alcohol sales and how they would change city ordinances to regulate it. The city attorney then would be asked to write the necessary changes to the ordinance, which the council would vote on in a follow-up meeting. If the referendum is passed, he said it is likely the city won’t see Sunday alcohol sales before the first of next year.
Edwards said the second special-election issue involves residents of the area he refers to as the “west side,” who would decide whether to allow the city to annex their neighborhoods and extend city services to them.
“This area includes neighborhoods off E.G. Miles Parkway, Airport Road, Curtis Road and other areas,” Edwards said. “It’s not a tightly defined area.”
He said including these neighborhoods in the city would eliminate what looks like islands on a map. The benefit to the city would be continuity of services, he said. It would provide to these isolated areas services that otherwise are not available to their community.
Only those residents living in the area considered for annexation would be allowed to approve or disapprove the annexation. He added that they would not be eligible to vote for the referendum on alcohol, and Hinesville residents would not be allowed to vote for the annexation of the west side.
Edwards said both special elections will be Nov. 5, and both Hinesville and west-side voters will have to go to the Shuman Center in Hinesville to cast their ballots.
He said the city is prepared to provide west-side residents with some city services almost immediately if they approve the annexation.
The city also would provide hard waste or trash pickup to those residents who want it. If they already have a trash company, he said they will not have to switch to city trash service. The city engineer already is planning for extending city water and sewer to west-side residents if the annexation is approved.