We really commend Springfield for taking the lead on the full service ordinance issue. We felt the final document the Springfield council put in place was a great balance of family friendly and marketability to potential restaurants. It keeps strict regulation of who has liquor available to pour and sell, what types of establishments will be able to pour, etc. They incorporated state requirements on proximity to schools and churches, which keeps Springfield competitive with other areas. They also adopted a requirement for restaurants to generate 50 percent of revenues from food sales, which is similar to what the competition in west Chatham requires.
We wish the leaders of Effingham County would also follow this same formula. The Effingham County ordinance as it is now currently written and approved requires 55 percent food and 45 percent alcohol to be able to participate in the sale of liquor by the drink, in addition to adding more distance requirements from the restaurant to schools, churches, etc. And while this small difference seems trivial, it is vitally important to remain competitive with surrounding counties and communities, such as Port Wentworth and Chatham County.
The issue is being less competitive than our neighbors when trying to attract new restaurants and businesses. The people of the county spoke loud and clear that they wanted full service restaurants. We fear that the voters may not get what the said they voted for in such overwhelming numbers. It was mentioned at the last county meeting by one of the Effingham County leaders that they were being consistent with what the city of Rincon was doing. I don’t believe that Rincon has made an official first draft of their ordinance. However, with what was said at the county meeting, the CPCE is concerned that the city of Rincon may also not be able to attract a full service restaurant. This would be disappointing given that seven of 10 Rincon voters made it clear they want to attract more restaurants.
We are encouraging everyone to stay involved with this process and let their community leaders know that they want full service restaurants. To get them, the community needs to adopt a competitive ordinance.
Chris Vogler, CPCE treasurer