McDONOUGH — An entertainment district won’t be coming to the city of McDonough, at least for now.
In a 4-3 vote Monday, the City Council opted to vote against the measure. Mayor Billy Copeland and Councilmembers Rufus Stewart, Kamali Varner and Sandra Vincent voted against while Councilmembers Craig Elrod, Benjamin Pruett and Roger Pruitt were in favor.
The idea of the district was introduced by Elrod during the council’s Nov. 5 meeting. The entertainment district would have allowed for alcoholic beverages to be carried in an open container in designated public places within the city Monday-Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. in a specially marked cup. The McDonough Square would have been omitted from the district because it’s considered a park.
The original district would have encompassed all of the Main Street District, however, Elrod said to start, he was willing to decrease the area to the original Main Street District of four blocks.
Pruitt who said he had “wrestled” with the idea initially, was ready to move forward with the idea after discussions with Elrod.
Councilmember Pruett questioned public safety. Following input from McDonough Police Chief Ken Noble, Pruett appeared satisfied.
Vincent said while she supported the downtown merchants and the idea of an entertainment district, she wanted more community conversation around the idea, suggesting a community meeting with business owners and residents who might be impacted.
Rather than voting on the measure during the Nov. 16 meeting, Vincent proposed a 14-day or 30-day public comment period accompanied by a “proper map” with street names. Additionally, she requested that notices be sent to businesses and affected neighborhoods with a copy of the proposed ordinance.
Elrod took issue with the suggestion.
“I can’t think of one ordinance we have done that for,” he said, adding he didn’t want to be held to a different standard than others.
Elrod pointed out that this is not the first time he has brought an entertainment district ordinance to the council on behalf of citizens and business owners.
“I did this two years ago, and now we really need this tool,” he said. “Citizens and business owners have reached out, and I made a commitment to the citizens I represent.”
Vincent said she wanted to work toward a resolution, calling it an opportunity to work together.
“What is the harm in creating a proper map and giving it two weeks,” she said. “Then we can all go away knowing we’ve been a part of something great.”
In a social media post on Tuesday, Elrod said he would take the issue to the council and mayor again, encouraging everyone to voice their support or opposition to the measure by reaching out to council members and the mayor.
“The more input for our citizens, the better in my book,” he said in the post.