Change to ordinance could mean more business downtown

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

Bars and churches.

Can they co-exist downtown?

News 12's Meredith Taylor shows you why the Downtown Advisory Panel wants to make a change in that direction.

In some parts of the downtown business district, there's no business.

“The current situation downtown where you have all these retail establishments vacant, we're trying to fill these store spaces,” says Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek.

Pastor Reggie Horne plans to rent a place downtown very soon, to move his church "The Well".

His congregation could be close neighbors with a bar.

“It doesn't so much concern us those businesses are located there, we just want to be a positive influence in Augusta,” says Rev. Horne.

The Downtown Advisory Panel is recommending changes to the current alcohol ordinance.

The first one would change the way distance is measured between bars and churches.

If a business has a liquor license, it has be 300ft. from a church's property line. Under the new rules, the measuring would start at the front door of a place of worship.

And it would end at the main entrance of the bar.

It’s a way to tighten up space that is currently, in some cases, being taken up by parking lots.

“The idea is not to infringe on anybody's area, but we've got a lot of close proximity down here,” says Brad Owens of the Downtown Advisory Panel.

The new measurements would only affect those people looking to put new businesses and churches downtown.

The second change is that the distance requirement wouldn't apply to any structure not originally built to be a church...like the place Reggie’s considering renting.

“New churches that come in will be just like businesses, and it won't prohibit a restaurant from opening and serving a glass of wine,” says Commissioner Cheek.

Changes that could mean a whole different look downtown.

These changes passed the first reading at Tuesday’s Commission meeting.

Before they go in effect, they must pass a second.

That'll be at the March 21st meeting.


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