City Council to hold hearing on changes to Kennesaw alcohol ordinance

Kennesaw City Hall

The public will have the opportunity to address proposed changes to Kennesaw’s alcohol ordinance at Monday’s city council meeting.

The amendment to the ordinance would only apply to businesses located in a designated entertainment district. Council approved the first such district last year downtown along Main, Cherokee, Summer and Dallas Streets, including the Schoolhouse Village mixed-use development, Depot Park, and Revival. Customers are permitted to purchase alcoholic beverages and carry them around within the entertainment area.

As the alcohol ordinance is currently written, restaurants must make at least 50 percent of revenue from food sales and bars 25 percent. The amendment would allow entertainment establishments to sell alcohol without a food requirement.

Comedy clubs, music venues, and arcades are some of the examples council members have mentioned in prior discussions as being the beneficiaries of such a change to the law.

The cap for alcohol sales for these types of retail businesses would be 50 percent, a figure that the council struggled to settle on.

Council members David Blinkhorn and Pat Ferris advocated for capping alcohol sales at 25-30 percent, saying they should be ancillary to the business and not the focus.

Members Chris Henderson and Tracey Viars pushed for a cap of no less than 50 percent.

Viars went so far as to propose a cap of 75 percent, saying that the point of the entertainment district is to draw people downtown and keep them there – since people can walk around with alcohol, some sales will have no correlation to the sale of food or tickets since they can take drinks to go.

She also said she had concerns that too low a cap would be detrimental to businesses in which the amount spent on a ticket, such as a comedy show, could be overshadowed by the amount the patron spends on alcohol.

Viars addressed the issue again at Monday’s work session when asking for clarification on the alcohol permit fees (the total cost in permits for a business to serve liquor, beer and wine by the drink, for example, is $4,100. A liquor permit is $3,000 and beer and wine are $550 each).

“Everyone knows I was not quite as happy as everybody else with the percentage. That’s not ancillary – $4,000 worth of fees, and liability insurance, and a space to serve drinks, and to have trained employees,” she said. “That’s just mostly to clear up the fear that every small business is going to want to sell alcohol. It’s not an inexpensive feat.”

The other change to the ordinance would allow businesses in the entertainment district that are subject to the food sale requirement to meet that need with food trucks. Truck & Tap, a pub that brings in food trucks on a rotating schedule, is a type of establishment that would benefit from such a change. It already has locations in Woodstock, Alpharetta and Duluth, and has been mentioned as a desired type of business for Kennesaw.

Also on Monday’s agenda:

*Public hearings are scheduled for the rezoning and variance requests for 1320 Lockhart Drive. York Acquisitions has requested the seven-acre property be rezoned for purpose-built student housing. The applicant has also requested an increase in bedroom density and a waiving of the requirement to provide access from a major collector or arterial street. Due to feedback from the community and the Cobb DOT, the developer is requesting the matter be tabled until new hearing dates on Nov. 4 and Nov. 16, however, community members will still have the opportunity to speak since it is a scheduled hearing.

*The owner of the property at 3461 Cherokee St. has requested a rezoning from residential to neighborhood retail commercial.

*Council began the process for right-of-way abandonment of Keene Street and Burrell Court. Core Property Development has submitted an offer for two tracts to exchange the abandoned rights of way for the future dedication of new rights of way.

*Council will vote whether to approve an agreement with RKG Associates for an economic development strategy and implementation plan. The request for proposals was issued in March prior to the COVID-19 shutdown delaying the project until now. Services rendered cannot exceed $60,000.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.