Four restaurants currently located in unincorporated Bryan County could be allowed to sell liquor by the drink on Sunday if the Board of Commissioners and county voters okay it.
For this to become a reality the commission must first approve a proposed resolution placing the referendum on the July 24 primary and then voters must pass the referendum.
Commissioners discussed the resolution Tuesday. They will decide whether or not to give voters an opportunity to approve or reject a referendum amending the county’s alcohol sales ordinance at their May meeting.
The draft amendment, if approved by voters, would permit the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays in licensed establishments which derive at least 50 percent of their total annual gross sales from the sales of prepared meals or food or the rental of rooms for overnight lodging.
Bethel Baptist Church Pastor Carlton Cooper told commissioners he opposes the resolution and asked them to respect the Lord’s day. Bethel Baptist Church is located in Richmond Hill, which already allows Sunday liquor by the drink.
“All of us have to give Him an account of what we do,” Cooper said. He added there is an authority above the voters of Bryan County.
Lynda Morse said there are residents who would be opposed to amending the alcohol sales ordinance, even those who do not attend church.
“We already have a drug and alcohol problem,” Morse said. “We don’t need it (Sunday alcohol sales), there’s enough of it already.”
In other county business:
The commission tabled several proposed zoning ordinance amendments pertaining to commercial and non-commercial kennels, and animal shelters. The county planning and zoning department had attempted to reconcile the kennel ordinance to the animal control ordinance, Bryan County Administrator Phil Jones explained.
Bryan County Commissioner Rick Gardner opposed restricting the number of dogs allowed without requiring a license, saying the county is still mostly rural. The amended ordinance defines a non-commercial kennel as four or more adult dogs (or cats) kept for personal use. The animal control ordinance currently requires a kennel license for 10 or more dogs. If the minimum number is changed to four, county staffers said, then the county could keep a record of any person who owns four or more dogs. This could also help with tracking stray dogs, they said.
* Commissioners approved a request by Dunham Marsh Plantation developer Brett Turner to increase the number of lots allowed in the project's master plan. Originally, the county approved a maximum of 298 lots, but permitted 276 lots. With the approved change, the number of lots was increased by 16 to 295. Turner said smaller homes and lots would be more "saleable" given the current real estate market.
* The commission approved a resolution to name the Bryan County Fire Department training facility located at the Kilkenny Fire Station after the late Art Gautreau. Gautreau, a Richmond Hill resident and volunteer firefighter, died last month after reportedly crashing his vintage airplane in Savannah.
* Commissioners agreed another fire station is needed in north Bryan, and could be located on property the county owns on Belfast River Road. The commission authorized Jones to bid out construction costs on the proposed fire station. Jones told commissioners there are 460 homes located outside the five mile radius of fire stations 1, on Highway 144, and 2, on Daniel Siding. The estimated cost for the station is $138,000. Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said the money for the proposed fire station would have to be borrowed. "I have an aversion to debt, but not when it concerns (the safety) of 460 homes out there, Burnsed said.