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'Yes' vote can still mean family-friendly
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Dear Editor,

Growth, change and choice are the issues surrounding the upcoming referendum and alcohol sales.

Those who are against the referendum state they want family-friendly growth in the county. We who are for the referendum agree completely with family-friendly growth. Applebee’s, Outback, Longhorn, Chili’s, Carrabba’s, just to name a few, all qualify as family friendly.

It is true full service restaurants serve alcohol. The focus of full service restaurants is on food and creating an enjoyable dining experience for the family. Full service restaurants are family friendly restaurants.

The referendum language is regulated by state law and reads;

“I hereby request that the Election Superintendent call and hold a referendum election for the purpose of submitting to the qualified voters of the City of Rincon, Georgia, the question of whether or not the governing authority of the City of Rincon shall be authorized to issue licenses to sell distilled spirits for beverage purposes by the drink, such sales to be for consumption only on the premises. I hereby declare that I am a duly qualified and registered voter of the City of Rincon, Georgia.”

We have asked the governing authorities of Rincon, Springfield and the county commission for strict guidelines for the pouring of alcohol so that stand-alone bars, nightclubs or package stores are not allowed. We desire to promote family friendly growth by attracting restaurants of quality into our community.

Full service restaurants are family friendly. I have visited this type of restaurant for over 30 years and in all that time I have never witnessed unruly, abusive or unbecoming behavior from anyone. That is why families seek out this type of restaurant, because of the family-friendly environment.

Some say they will come without having to pour alcohol. In our case, a more accurate and logical approach to that statement is required.

A restaurant located just across our county line could sell alcohol and still receive the support of patrons because we all travel greater distances now to dine with them. They would have made a good business decision locating their restaurant where they could sell alcohol and still receive the support of their patrons. This is a logical business approach to the selection process which is profit driven.

We, the residents of Effingham County, would be the one making a bad business decision. We will have allowed thousands, possibly millions, of tax dollars to escape into the neighboring county. We would still be supporting their schools, their roads, their community programs with our tax dollars. We can govern the pouring of alcohol and maintain our goals of family friendly growth.

Effingham County is experiencing growth and changes are only natural. With each new business locating in our county, we find our shopping routines are also changing. We are now finding things locally instead of having to make that trip into Savannah or Pooler.

A small business hub within Rincon is emerging with the opening of Lowes, Tractor Supply, Walgreen’s and the newly renovated shops along Highway 21. If this hub fails in drawing family style full service restaurants, its growth will suffer. The newly formed shopping patterns will be interrupted by a new hub of businesses created between our county line and Interstate 95. This will affect our property taxes. We, the individual property owners, will be forced to carry the burden of the lost revenue.

We have already experienced a huge increase in property taxes recently. To break the trend of higher property taxes, we must allow our business district to continue a natural growth pattern and help offset individual property taxes with new revenues generated by businesses within our county.

The choice is ours. We can choose to be responsible and require the governing authorities to set controls on the pouring of alcohol that will address all of our concerns of family-friendly growth. This will make us more marketable for full service restaurants. Our business district will continue to flourish. The convenience of eating and shopping locally will become a reality. The taxes we keep within the county will improve our schools, our roads and our community projects.

A vote of no will be leaving the future of our growth to chance rather than that of responsible leadership. A vote of no will mean you would rather travel out of the county to enjoy the selection of family dining we seek. A vote of no says we do not trust ourselves or the citizens of this county to be responsible with the pouring of alcohol. A vote of no says we don’t need the tax dollars and we are willing to see our taxes go up even more in order to keep alcohol out.

The choice is ours. Vote yes for the referendum. Vote yes for family friendly growth with the full service restaurants.

Charles Kea
Community Progress Council of Effingham