May 19, 2020–6:17 a.m.
An amendment to the city code that would allow public consumption of alcohol downtown on a temporary basis was placed on First Reading during Monday’s Rome City Commission meeting.
Second Reading and a vote will come during the next commission meeting in three weeks.
Backers of the plan say it will give pouring establishments whose business has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic another way to survive.
The ordinance is nearly identical to one that was voted down by the commission in 2017.
During Monday’s discussion, Mayor Pro Tem Craig McDaniel asked why the amendment was being brought to the city commission at a time when they cannot meet in public.
“The last time we discussed this we had a lot of people from the general public, some of the churches, business owners and residents who got up and spoke against it,” he said. “It’s very difficult to hear from both sides right now while we are in this quarantine situation.”
Monica Sheppard, Chair of the Rome Alcohol Control Commission, responded.
“I think that this is a chance for us to support those businesses in a way that allows them to better serve their customers,” she said. “That is why we had our email conversation about this and the majority of our members voted to move it forward to you guys. Obviously it is a timely topic that requires attention now. If we put it off until a point that we can all meet together then it will be less of a need with those restaurants, and they are all struggling very much.”
The proposed ordinance from the Alcohol Control Commission does come with restrictions like using a Downtown Development Authority approved cup no larger than 16 ounces and ending the public consumption period at 11 p.m. each day.
You can view the ordinance HERE.
You can also view the meeting in its entirety here: