Downtown entertainment district approved in McDonough

Map of McDonough downtown entertainment district (special photo)

The McDonough city council approved the creation of a downtown entertainment district, allowing for the outdoor consumption of alcoholic beverages, at their January 4 meeting. The motion passed 5-2, with Mayor Billy Copeland and council member Rufus Stewart voting in opposition.

The council adopted the ordinance to support downtown merchants. It allows patrons with a drink the option to walk around the square between shops while drinking their beverage. Other surrounding cities have adopted similar measures — including Fayetteville, Griffin, and Covington — over the last few years.

The district previously failed on a 3-4 vote in November 2020. The council reconsidered the item in January after cancelling their December meeting.

Open Container limited to City-approved Cup

The ordinance calls for McDonough Main Street to order a clear plastic cup. Main Street will sell the cup to downtown businesses with alcohol licenses. Alcoholic beverages purchased by customers for outdoor consumption must be inside one of the clear plastic cups. The color of the cup will change quarterly.

The ordinance allows for the open container of alcoholic beverages between 12 pm to 11 pm on Mondays through Saturdays. The ordinance excludes Sundays. The size of the drink is limited to 16 fluid ounces.

Open container laws for all other alcoholic beverages not inside the city-approved cup stay in place. The ordinance also has no impact on the city’s enforcement of other state laws regarding alcohol consumption, such as DUI.

The effective date of the ordinance is February 1, 2021. The ordinance requires the city council to consider the district’s renewal or expiration before February 1, 2022.

(city photo with staff added key)

District Boundaries

The downtown entertainment district mirrors the old Main Street district, shaded in pale yellow on the map above. Other cities print a copy of the map and its boundaries on the approved plastic cup.

The ordinance only applies on public right-of-way, such as the sidewalk. At the suggestion of councilwoman Sandra Vincent, the council also added an exemption excluding public right-of-way in front of churches, government buildings, or residential-zoned properties.

Mayor Pro Temp Craig Elrod introduced the ordinance after local business owners and residents asked for his support. Elrod originally suggested the city adopt the current Main Street district, shown in blue. Other council members requested the smaller district and exemptions that ultimately passed.

The open container ordinance does not override the city’s existing park ordinance. The park ordinance prohibits alcoholic beverages. The interior of the McDonough Square — maintained as a city park — continues to prohibit alcoholic beverages. No open containers, including the city’s plastic cup, will be allowed inside the town square.

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Clayton Carte is the founder and owner of Moving Henry Forward Community News. The website provides local news coverage in Henry County, Georgia.