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Marietta City Council Moves Closer To Open Container Policy

 The Marietta City Council approved a first reading of the open container policy by 5-1.
The Marietta City Council approved a first reading of the open container policy by 5-1.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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The downtown Marietta Square is one step closer to having an open container policy.

After stalling on the idea for over a year, the city council responded to requests from local businesses and moved forward with an amended policy, which would only apply to Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

It would also only apply to up to 12 ounces of alcohol in a clear plastic cup. No cans or bottles would be allowed.

Other cities in Cobb County, including Kennesaw, Acworth and Smyrna recently approved open container districts, to allow people to carry alcohol on certain streets at certain times.

Marietta has held back until now. The City Council approved a first reading of the policy by 5-1 Wednesday. One Councilman spoke out against it.

“The Square’s always been brought up as a family-oriented place and we sell it as to bring your kids up there,” Councilmember Griffin Chalfant said. “When you leave a restaurant carrying around drinking just doesn’t seem to go with that. I think it will consistently add to the propensity to drive when you’re drinking, too.

“I don’t think that’s the right thing that we want to be doing in the City of Marietta,” he said.

Gary Leake, who owns Johnnie MacCracken’s Celtic Firehouse Pub near the square, said the policy could make a difference for businesses.

“This open container thing is just one more tool to make a City relevant. Marietta is a destination right now,” he said. But, “[the square] is being attacked by different venues that are going after the business that we worked hard to get.”

He said competition is tough from places like the Battery development nearby, and this could help. He’s optimistic the policy will succeed, and said the council seems particularly “sensitive to the businesses” right now.

“That’s what I’m picking up this time, is the council people are listening to their constituents about what they want,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle choice that Marietta is voting for right now and I hope they go for it.”

Leake, who has had businesses in downtown Marietta for 30 years, said this reminds him of a previous fight with city government: to legalize outdoor seating for restaurants.

The open container proposal would only apply to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and needs final approval by City Council on May 8.