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Smyrna considering adding new open container districts

May 19, 2019

Smyrna’s “restaurant districts,” where visitors can walk out of restaurants or bars with their alcoholic drinks in to-go cups, have been so popular that the city is considering an expansion.

An item on the City Council’s agenda for Monday night includes three separate additions to the restaurant districts. Smyrna created its first “restaurant district” in its downtown in February 2018, then added three new districts in November: the Belmont shopping center, the Jonquil shopping center and Riverview Landing along the Chattahoochee River.

Proposed additions to the districts include adding a small area featuring a gazebo near the city’s Arboretum to the downtown district and the sidewalk along Atlanta Road that connects downtown Smyrna to the Belmont shopping center, allowing patrons to walk with their drinks between the two existing districts.

A third addition would create a new district in the city’s Concord Road Linear Park.

The proposed additions are being sponsored by Councilwoman Maryline Blackburn. She said the districts have been popular, so she decided to look at expanding them.

“From what I’ve heard from my constituents, they’re very much in support of this,” she said.

Councilman Charles Welch agreed. Generally, he said, city residents are happy with the open container district.

“Also, I will say, on the other side of the coin, I haven’t heard any complaints from our police department, where it’s causing them any undue stress or any problems in the downtown community,” Welch said.

When the city created the first district, it also established a set of rules that govern them. Among those rules are a one-drink limit per person when outside a business, requiring that the drinks be in paper or plastic cups not larger than 16 ounces and mandating that drinks be purchased from a business within the district, preventing someone from bringing their own drinks from home.

Hours for drinking outside businesses in the districts are 11 a.m. to midnight.

The proposal comes less than two weeks after Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin vetoed a similar proposal for an open container district around Marietta Square.

Blackburn said what may work for one city might not work for another.

“I don’t know what their circumstances are. I don’t know if they may have had some incidents that happened where the mayor thinks, ‘This is just not going to work here,’” she said.

Still, Blackburn said Marietta Square would be “an ideal place” for an open container district.

The Smyrna City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at Smyrna City Hall.