The great thing about democracy is the ability to choose. With the Effingham County commissioners’ vote last week, citizens will get to decide if they want to have what are known as full-service restaurants — that’s restaurants that sell liquor by the drink — in the unincorporated areas of the county.
And the people should have the right to decide if this is what they want. If the vote winds up in favor of it, good. If the majority of voters say no, that’s good, too. But at least they will have a chance to have a say in their county.
While backers of the referendum want it on the ballot as soon as possible, if a large turnout is sought, perhaps it will be better to have it on the November general election ballot. If a presidential race, a U.S. Senate election and local elections don’t draw a good showing to the polls, what will?
Will a favorable vote immediately open the door for the Chili’s, Applebee’s and Longhorn restaurants of the world? Maybe. Many franchises wait until an area’s population crosses a set threshold before exploring opening in that area.
It’s called the rooftop factor, meaning they need to see enough rooftops.
There’s no doubt that will happen here, if it hasn’t happened already. Effingham’s fast growing population is nearing 50,000 and taking into account the western fringes of Chatham County, that number grows significantly.
There’s also the worry that if those establishments choose the I-95/Highway 21 area to settle first, they may not come to Effingham at all because it would be close enough to draw Effingham residents.
As we are seeing local shopping options open up and make the trips into Savannah less necessary, maybe too we can have more choices to stay close to home for dining. Perhaps the argument that those sales tax receipts will stay in Effingham rather than funding whatever they back in Chatham will come to fruition.
But if nothing else, at least Effingham residents will get to have a say-so in the matter, one way or the other.