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Citizens fight city alcohol ordinance

 A petition to repeal Article VIII of the Valdosta City Alcohol Ordinance has recently started circulating and has already received the support of over 500 citizens thus far.

 The article requires entertainment industries in Valdosta, such as Vegas Nightclub and Rockin’ Rodeo, to close their doors at 2 a.m. The businesses had been closing at 4 a.m. before the recent revision.

 The revision to the ordinance has caused a lot of stir in Valdosta from both sides of the issue already.

 “I feel the ordinance targets us specifically because of the complaints we’ve had up here,” John Thornton, assistant manager of Vegas Nightclub said. “We’ve been really slow since this revision. We usually pick-up our crowd at 2 o’clock when Remerton has closed, but with the revision in effect we have noticed about a 50 percent drop in our revenue.”

 Other local nighttime business owners have experienced similar negative effects due to the article.

 “We can only pick up so many people at 2 o’clock,” Felix Vayner, founder of the Tipsy Transit said. “Our first priority is the people who pay for round trips.”  Vayner explained, “We have to guarantee those people make it home first before we can get new customers. Before we’d have an hour or two once Remerton shut down to pick up people from Rockin’ Rodeo and Vegas, but now we just don’t have the time.”

 Even with some businesses reporting a significant loss in revenue, others see Article VIII as a way to keep citizens safe.

 “My mother always used to tell me that nothing good happens after midnight and I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to stay out until 4,” John Gayle, Valdosta City Mayor, said. “It’s a matter of doing what’s right for everyone. The more exposure to alcohol the more problems we have, the more DUI’s we have, and the more conflict with law enforcement we have.”

 Alex Abell, co-founder of DearDrunkMe which promotes safe partying, is responsible for the petition to repeal Article 8.   Abell has one goal for his petition.

 “We are really trying to get the word out about the petition, we want everyone to sign and share it so we can party as long as we want without forcing intoxicated drivers on the road,” Abell said.

 Abell’s problems with Article VIII are abundant. While he understands the mayor’s point of view, he feels that the mayor is off base on the effects of the revision.

 “The ordinance is really backwards,” Abell said. “You have to stop serving alcohol at 1:55 and at 2 a.m. you have to be in the parking lot.”

 He added, “You end up having officers trying to push people onto the road. There are officials saying nothing good happens after midnight, but really the new legislation encourages DUI’s and unsafe behavior.”

 The amount of taxis and designated ways home had been a problem in Valdosta even before the revision.

 “They didn’t have enough taxis before and they damn sure won’t have enough now to handle Remerton, Vegas, and Rockin’ Rodeo all at 2,” Aaron Brewer, Tipsy Transit driver said.

 The petition can be found online at change.org/petitions/repeal-article-viii-of-the-lowndes-county-alcohol-ordinance.

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