MOULTRIE, Ga. — The Moultrie City Council established a moratorium on alcohol licenses at its meeting Tuesday. 

Under the moratorium, the city cannot approve existing applications or accept any new ones, City Manager Pete Dillard said afterwards. 

The moratorium accompanied a motion to consider changes to the city’s alcohol ordinance to bring it more in line with the state’s ordinance. Dillard said both the local ordinance and the state regulation limit the distance between an alcohol-selling establishment and an existing church or school, but the phrasing of the two laws make them appear to set those limits at different distances.

He said that at the start of Tuesday’s meeting he had three different legal opinions on whether the state and local rules were the same. Both he and Councilwoman Lisa Clarke Hill said they’d received multiple calls from people concerned about the location of a venue that’s seeking an alcohol license.

The moratorium will allow the city more time to research the laws to see if there is a meaningful difference and whether the city council wishes to amend the city ordinance to match the state law.

Dillard said he expects the council to make a decision about changing the ordinance at its next meeting on Jan. 19. Under parliamentary rules, the motion Tuesday night constituted a first and second reading of the action; if approved Jan. 19, the new version of the ordinance would take effect immediately. 

Dillard said he expects the moratorium to end after the Jan. 19 meeting whether the council decides to change the ordinance or not.

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