By a 4-0 vote — Councilman Bill Thrash was absent due to illness — the council changed its alcoholic beverage law by adding a new “social host” section to hold homeowners responsible if teens are found drinking on premises.
Lt. Craig Graydon of the city police department said bars and convenience stores are not the biggest culprits in the fight against minors being served.
“Parties are our greatest problems with underage drinking,” he said.
During the ordinance’s public hearing, Cobb Alcohol Task force member Cathy Finck said the new law is needed to help police.
“Law enforcement can’t tell who furnishes alcohol to the minors,” she said. “Adopting the new ordinance allows law enforcement to charge the social host.”
Task force member Laura Searcy, a registered nurse and former member of the Cobb County school board, said health care professionals are alarmed.
“The youth brain is very vulnerable to binge drinking. It causes permanent, irreversible damage,” she said. “Anything we can do to push that first use older toward 21 is a positive thing for everyone.”
Another public hearing was preceded by City Planning and Zoning Administrator Darryl Simmons’ presentation of changes to the city’s Unified Development Code, which, in part, regulates the types of businesses allowed in the Central Business District.
While growler stores and massage therapy sailed through, the City Council balked at adding funeral homes to the list.
Bruce Seagrave of Kennesaw said he wanted to provide a return to intimate, private viewings in residence-like environments and add 10 jobs to the economy.
Mayor Pro-tem Cris Eaton-Welch said she had concerns about parking in the downtown area.
“It will be a strain for future businesses,” she said, adding her own nine-employee business, Eaton Chiropractic, struggles with space limitations.
Eddie Lummus of Winkenhofer Pine Ridge Funeral Home said Sandy Springs recently asked a funeral home to provide 80 parking spaces, compared to the 20 Seagrave proposed.
However, resident Rochelle Sweet said the business could coexist with neighboring retailers, restaurants and churches.
“Being in the Central Business District is not a foreign concept,” she said, citing funeral parlors in equivalent zones in cities like Acworth and Marietta.
Councilman Bruce Jenkins said the idea ran counter to the vision the City Council has for the district, making a substitute motion to keep funeral homes out.
The vote was 3-1 vote, with Jeff Duckett opposed.
“I voted against that motion because I think that funeral businesses should be allowed in the CBD,” he said after the meeting. “If a business owner thinks they can open and operate a funeral home within the guidelines we set for funeral homes, I think they should be able to do that. We shouldn’t be the ones to tell them if the business will work or not.”
In other actions, the city approved its consent agenda 4-0, which included loaning $300,000 to the Kennesaw Development Authority at 1.5 percent for 10 years to lease and develop David W. Collier’s Trackside property at 2844 S. Main St.
The authority will rent the property from Collier and sublet it at $3,000 a month to Michael Diamond of Sandy Springs-based Main Street Burger for a location of the all-natural BurgerFi franchise.
According to city documents, Diamond will invest at least $250,000 in interior work, furniture, fixtures and equipment, provide another $150,000 in operating capital, and create 25 to 35 jobs.