Phillips said there is no point in Spalding County putting itself at a disadvantage in relation to other metro Atlanta counties.
“Go to McDonough and see how many Spalding County tags are in the parking lots of the Olive Garden, the Red Lobster (and) Outback Steaks,” he said.
He said Pike, Lamar, Butts and Upson counties also attract people from Spalding County who want to go where they can buy alcohol by the drink on Sunday. He said Spalding County residents who travel to neighboring counties would probably rather not drive 20 miles.
At the June 21 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Phillips agreed with a suggestion by Justin Wynn, the manager of Country Rock Bar and Grill, that in November, county residents should have the opportunity to vote to allow alcohol sales by the drink on Sunday. Phillips said this mirrors state law.
Phillips said this would help attract industry to Spalding County.
“People that are going to locate aren’t just going to want three-phase power and sewer ... but they’re also going to want recreation, they’re going to want comforts,” he said.
He also said liberalizing the rules governing alcohol will encourage restaurant growth in the county, since alcohol sales represent a significant part of restaurant revenues. This will mean more jobs and more sales tax revenue, which in turn could lead to cuts in property taxes.
He said with the economy first on everyone’s mind, more people are going to vote for liberalizing Sunday alcohol sales rules than during the previous referendum.
“It came very close,” he said about the last referendum on the issue.
He said he understands the potential religious opposition to his proposal but said people are going to drink — they will go to where the alcohol is.
Pastor Tom Summers of Carver Road Baptist Church was active in the fight against the Curves strip club that formerly occupied the site of Country Rock.
“I think if they’re drinking so much that it makes a difference as to how much money Spalding County makes, we have too many alcoholics here in Griffin,” Summers said. “We ought to be focused on rehabs at that point.”
He said the Bible said to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
“We’ve taken God out of everything else. I pray we can at least leave Sunday His,” he said.