One Sandy Springs City Councilman wants to allow the city’s retailers to sell draft beer in glass jugs, but the rest of the council isn’t sold on the idea.

The City Council on May 1 uncapped a debate about whether to allow the sale of “growlers,” 32 to 64 ounce glass containers containing draft craft beer. The city’s neighbor, Dunwoody, recently approved selling beer in this type of container.

City Councilman Gabriel Sterling disclosed during the meeting he is interested in owning and operating a store with a license to sell growlers, but said he does not currently plan to put one in Sandy Springs. Council members said other business owners have pushed for the changes.

The May 1 meeting dealt specifically with a change to the city’s code to allow growler beer tastings in addition to sales, similar to wine tastings.

Sterling and Councilman Chip Collins struggled with the wording of the proposed changes that would limit growler sales to businesses that sell food.

“That kills the ability to bring these things in,” Sterling said.

Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny said she has a problem with the allowing growler sales at all.

“I think we’re going to have more package stores opening up,” McEnerny said.

The current revision of the ordinance would not allow growler sales in liquor stores, however.

City attorney Wendell Willard said he drafted the proposed amendments to limit the possibility of all stores offering swill beer on the cheap.

“My rationale was not to have them be so prolific and used by convenience stores,” Willard said.

Sterling and Collins said restricting sales to restaurants defeats the purpose of allowing growlers.

“Your average tab at these places is $45,” he said.

Willard said he would tweak the proposed ordinance and bring it back to the council at another meeting.

In other business, the City Council held a workshop to discuss the city’s Fiscal 2013 budget. The most notable item on the proposed budget is doubling what the city has saved up for its future City Hall.

City Manager John McDonough told the council the proposed budget contains $5 million to buy land for City Hall and another $5 million for downtown infrastructure improvements and buying rights of way. The city has another $9 million in its so-called “city hall fund.”

The true costs of building a city hall are unknown and depend on a number of factors.

Council members are getting input from Boston-based consulting firm Goody Clancy about whether to build a municipal complex on property it owns along Johnson Ferry Road, turn that building into a park and build a downtown around green space or build a city hall at a different location. At some point, though, the council’s plans will involve the purchase of property, either through negation or through eminent domain. City Council members say they are reluctant to take property from unwilling property owners.

 

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