Commission indecisive on vodka distillery after protest

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September 19, 2006

Neighbors from east Augusta crowded into commission chambers today. They weren't happy about a company that wanted to make vodka next door. So many crowded into the Municipal Building that many were left standing in the hall.

Developer Gerald Blount asked commissioners to rezone land he owns off Sand Bar Ferry Road so he could build a vodka distillery. But the east Augusta neighbors said it would be a bad addition to an area with plenty of problems already with drugs, alcohol, and illicit activities. They also pointed out that there are schools nearby.

The homeowners brought a petition with over 400 names.

Ultimately the Commission's vote was split along racial lines, so no action was taken.

Blount said he doesn't plan to continue fighting this, but instead will look to build in Aiken or Columbia County.

Commissioners also took up a proposal today that would cut the commissioners' travel budget by 20 percent and limit them to one national conference per year.

The vote on that issue was split, and the motion failed.