The Ball Ground City Council moved forward on getting a pair of city laws on the books at its most recent meeting, holding readings on one of the two ordinances and approving the other.

The first ordinance to come before the council had to do with the change in how local restaurants were allowed to serve alcohol, made during the height of coronavirus-related restrictions. At the time, restaurants in Ball Ground were allowed to sell packaged beer and wine with to-go orders, similar to what many other cities approved for their restaurants.

“As you know, we allowed that when the pandemic, shelter in place restrictions were placed on restaurants,” Mayor Rick Roberts said. “It turned out, it’s been a financial benefit to our restaurants.”

With that in mind, Roberts said the city floated the idea of making this change to the city’s alcohol license ordinance permanent, allowing restaurants to sell unopened bottles of beer and wine to patrons to be taken and consumed off-premises. City Manager Eric Wilmarth elaborated on specifics regarding the change, explaining that the city would revoke the law’s current language of not allowing restaurants to sell or distribute alcohol by package, replacing it with wording stating they would be allowed to do so. The council had no further questions or comments, and a subsequent motion to allow the change was approved unanimously.

In addition, the council held its first reading on the sign law that has been under development for the past several months. Wilmarth said the ordinance covers when signs are put out, where they are placed and the size of the signs, but not who is putting out the signs. He described it as being a simple sign law, with signs only being allowed on public rights-of-way between noon on Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday. It denies the ability for signs to be put on the public right-of-way in residential neighborhoods when the property is completely maintained by the homeowner and regulates the use of temporary signs, such as those placed by a local store to advertise products. The ordinance has a classification table, breaking down sign allowances based on zoning. While he felt there would be learning curve once the law takes effect, Roberts felt the city had come up with something fairly effective on the whole.

“We want to be able to help merchants in short-term advertising, but we also don’t want to have our city cluttered with signs that don’t get picked up,” he said.

A motion to approve the first reading of the proposed sign law was then passed in a unanimous vote. The second reading of the ordinance will take place during the July meeting of the Ball Ground City Council.

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