V I E W P O I N T S
Editor's Note: This is a letter from Dade resident Bob Venable that he sent to the Dade County Commission, and which he shared with The Planet to run as a letter to the editor.
Dade County Commissioners: Please alter the proposed alcohol ordinance to remove provisions in excess of requirements by the State of Georgia.
Specifically - please remove the excess requirements regarding (1) minimum restaurant seats and (2) restaurant location being specified to be within a certain distance from the Interstate.These excess requirements are in effect zoning and are unnecessarily discriminatory against small business in our county. But If you decide to keep these excess provisions - please respond and educate me on the positive value of these excess requirements.
I lived in Chattanooga in 1972, when similar alcohol laws were considered and passed. In 1972, very similar concerns about relaxed prohibitions of alcohol were discussed then in Chattanooga as are now being discussed in Dade County. In 1972, Chattanooga was reeling from a great decrease in industrial and manufacturing jobs-- and Chattanooga was trying to reinvent the city base economy to add greatly expanded tourism and hospitality business. The goal of the Chattanooga 1972 alcohol ordinances was to bring additional revenue to the hospitality industry. After those laws were passed, the number of restaurants, restaurant employment and follow-along tourism greatly increased in Chattanooga.
Encourage small business: I understand that several years ago, Dade County would not allow Walmart to locate a store in Trenton, in order to protect our local small businesses. Now, I do not understand why small restaurant businesses are being discriminated against via these excess-to-state law minimum seating requirements. Dropping the minimum-seat requirements will provide additional revenue that can allow smaller restaurants the margin to operate. It is very hard for small restaurants to be successful without the high-profit margin and low-expenses of draft beverages.
The state-mandated provisions on restaurants for food/drink mix should be enough to discourage alcohol-only establishments. While Dade County has some larger restaurants , the majority that our family frequents are small: Whistle Stop Diner in Rising Fawn, Geneva's, Canyon Quick Stop and Pat's on Lookout. As you are aware, some of these small restaurants are struggling to survive--but are a benefit to those local Dade communities.
As Dade County begins to attract more outdoor activities --and people interested in those outdoor activities--these people are coming into Dade County for the event, but then almost immediately leave to patronize establishments that have local character and charm--and also serve alcohol. We often travel to Murphy and Wesser, N.C., Dahlonega, Ga., and Damascus, Va., to enjoy outdoor activities, and we patronize small restaurant establishments. There is no good reason that Dade County cannot also become an outdoor destination with many successful small local restaurant venues as are in those areas.
We have brow property that has been unsuccessfully for sale for less than the county appraised value for several years. Our realtor has told us that there is little demand for Dade County property. More demand for our area will lead to larger prosperity of more jobs and more demand for Dade County.
In conclusion, I love Dade County. I love the freedom-loving and independent mindset of Dade County --the Great State of Dade. But I also see how renewed growth in tourism and additional dollars being spent in Dade County can improve our county for all of us.