One of the two alcohol licenses approved by the Powder Springs City Council Monday came with little discussion and no debate.
It was for wine and beers sales for the recently opened Loma Pizzeria on Sailors Parkway. The council approved the license 4-1, with Councilwoman Nancy Hudson dissenting, as she typically does on alcohol issues.
But the other license, requested by the owners of the $3.5 million Governor’s Gun Club being built at the corner of C.H. James Parkway and Sterlingbrooke Drive, was full of points and rebuttals before being approved 3-2.
The small selection of alcohol would be served during the hours allowed by Powder Springs law and in a lounge secured with a special key given just to members. The only people under 21 who could enter are the children of members, and they wouldn’t be allowed to drink.
“It’s not really anything new. It’s what things are changing to,” Owner Kristina Brown said, noting alcohol is served in ranges in Arizona and Kentucky. Drinks wouldn’t be a “profit center,” she explained, but rather a perk.
Guns would not be permitted in the lounge, and once inside, customers couldn’t return to the shooting range. A gun valet system with lockers will be available, but customers could still exit the building with their weapons.
“So what happens in the parking lot?” Hudson asked at the work session before the meeting. She said she had received calls from two “very upset” constituents. “I come from a family of hunters. We have guns … but alcohol and guns do not mix.”
Ann Harmon, whose Elliot Road home backs up to the site, was one of two residents to step up to the microphone in opposition. She said she has no objections to the gun club, and that her husband and son frequent one.
“But I do want to make one complete statement: that alcohol and guns do not mix,” she said.
Mayor Pat Vaughn said the council has “shared your concerns, but I think they have some pretty good safety measures in place.”
Background checks and questionnaires will be given, and members must sign a contract ensuring they follow all the safety rules, said Brown’s husband, Bert, with Acworth-based EGAD Architectural and Engineering, which specializes in gun ranges.
“That goes above the laws of Georgia,” Bert Brown said. “In Georgia, a person can carry a firearm into a bar.”
“We have a $3.5 million investment here,” he said earlier in the work session, explaining how he doesn’t drink. “Unfortunately, (drinking) is a part of our society, and this is hard even coming from my mouth, but there’s a certain amount of concern that we would not be successful with this type of product if we did not have that ability” to serve alcohol.
With the expense of buying a membership, Councilman Chris Wizner called the range a “high-end social club.”
He compared getting into a car with a gun after drinks at the gun range to anyone being able to do the same at a LongHorn Steakhouse. But at the gun range, he said, there is more regulation.
“No situation is perfect, but at least you’re doing due diligence to control it,” Wizner said. “You’re not going to have your typical alcoholic walking in.”
The other Powder Springs resident to object before the council, Rickie Geiger, said: “With all due respect to Dr. Wizner, I don’t think it matters how much money you’ve got, a drunk is a drunk. … There’s a difference between a LongHorn and a firing range.”
The 3-2 vote to approve was supported by council members Wizner, Rosalyn Neal and Cheryl Sarvis, and opposed by Hudson and Al Thurman. The latter two were also on the dissenting end of a 3-2 vote to waive the ordinance that requires establishments serving alcohol by the drink to bring in more than 50 percent of their profits from food.
Thurman pointed to the city being very strict on restaurants about the ordinance.
But the council already waved the ordinance for another private club, the American Legion, Vaughn noted.
Finger foods will be available at the range, and the Browns said they expect to receive some business from people stopping by just to have lunch.
Ground was broke on the project in June, and if all goes to plan, the range could open either before Christmas or shortly after the New Year.