The owner of the Chimney Oaks golf course has sued the city of Homer over its refusal to issue it a license to sell liquor-by-the-drink.
The owner of the golf course, BCG Operations, is owned by three people, according to the lawsuit, James A. Pritchard, who owns 60 percent and lives in Maysville; Roy A. “Tiny” Adams, who has 20 percent and lives in Cumming; and Michael G. Acton, who also owns 20 percent and lives in Homer.
The golf course has been seeking for months a license to sell beer and wine on Sundays at the course. Manager Brad Day, who appeared before council multiple times last summer about the issue, said it is a “competitive” move. He said 40-something golf courses in the region already have the right to sell beer and wine on Sundays.
At the time, he said the golf course had no interest in selling liquor-by-the-drink because the license cost too much – $2,500 annually.
The lawsuit was filed in Banks County Superior Court Feb. 1. It names the mayor and council members as individual defendants.
The suit seeks a “writ of mandamus and declaratory judgment” against the defendants. The suit say a writ of mandamus “may be used to compel a public official to perform a duty of his or her office.”
The lawsuit says the company submitted applications and checks for beer, wine and distilled spirits. The city took the beer and wine applications and the fee of $500 each, but it rejected the application for distilled spirits.
The lawsuit says the city has issued “distilled spirit consumption licenses to other applicants” City clerk Carol Ayers said Feb. 11 that no business current has such a license. She said the city did issue those licenses “years and years ago,” but she said it had not been done recently. She said she tried to find where licenses had been issued and could not quickly find them.
The suit says the application “was denied without any opportunity for a hearing and without written notice of the denial.” It also says the golf course owner “met the requirements necessary” to get a license.
The city plans a referendum in March on three questions about alcohol sales at the golf course. The referendum is scheduled to be on the presidential primary ballot. The three questions, at the suggestion of city attorney David Syfan, deal with the sale of beer and wine on Sundays and with liquor-by-the-drink on Sundays.
Calls to Doug Cheek, Homer mayor, was not returned Feb. 11. Calls to M. Tyler Smith, attorney who filed the suit, also were not returned.
Syfan said only the suit had been served Feb. 3 and “therefore there are 25 days before a reply is due.”
Council member James Dumas, who told the council last fall he was talking to Day on a monthly basis, said by email he was “surprised” by the suit.
“The council has worked with them on several things since I began serving on the council,” Dumas said. The council has granted variances on some lots within the development at their request. Council also has placed on the March ballot for the citizens of Homer to decide if distilled spirits can be sold within the city limits at their request.”
Previous licenses for distilled spirits, he said, “were before my time” serving on council.
The lawsuit also seeks damages from the city for the loss of revenue and seeks for the city to pay its attorney’s fees for the suit.