CANTON - The Canton City Council on Thursday night voted down a proposal to extend the life of its "restaurant district," for another year.

The law allowed people to move around the district with alcohol in to-go cups purchased within the district. The restaurant district was created last year and was due to expire Oct. 1 unless the council voted to renew it or make it permanent.

Council members deadlocked 2-2 on a motion by Councilman Nick Estes to renew the ordinance for another year. Mayor Gene Hobgood cast the deciding vote to kill the proposal.

"I have looked at the evidence and it doesn't appear that there's any real negative result that has occurred as a result of this," Hobgood said. "But I don't know that it's had any positive effect either."

Estes, who co-owns a craft beer store in the restaurant district, and Councilwoman Sandy McGrew voted to extend the law for another year, while Councilmen Jack Goodwin and Farris Yawn voted against it. Councilwoman JoEllen Wilson, who last year voted to create the district, was absent from Thursday's meeting.

Estes had proposed renewing the restaurant district ordinance and then working on an overhaul of the city's alcohol laws.

Yawn said he expected that to happen in the first year of the restaurant district, but it wasn't done.

Before the ordinance to create the district was passed last year, the idea drew both strong support and opposition. Proponents touted it as a tool to make downtown more visitor friendly. Opponents worried it would contribute to increased public drunkenness and make the downtown less family friendly.

Roswell, Woodstock and a number of other area cities have adopted similar districts in recent years. Hobgood on Thursday pointed out that the Marietta City Council rejected a similar proposal for its popular downtown square.

The Canton district was created with the caveat that it be in place for a year and that city officials monitor for any increased crime or littering in the district. Earlier this summer, city staff, including then-police Chief Mark Mitchell reported no increases within the three-block district.

City Manager Billy Peppers told council members that businesses that sell alcohol in the district estimated they sold an average of 10 to 20 drinks in the plastic to-go cups each week.

The to-go cups are legal on sidewalks in the district after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The final days for the restaurant district are Sept. 20, 21, 27, 28.


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