The vote was 5-2, with Council members Anthony Coleman and Grif Chalfant opposing because they wanted the ban to include anyone younger than 21, as recommended by the Marietta Police Department.
Until now, children of any age have been allowed to enter the city’s bars and lounges, provided they don’t drink alcohol. But this has created problems for Marietta Police, who have complained about the excesses of “foam parties” that occur at some of the establishments.
Marietta Police said certain bar owners in the city lease their floor space to club promoters for the evening, who then host a foam party there. The establishment is filled with waist-deep foam, which the attendees dance in. Trouble is, minors as young as 13 have been seen at the parties drunk or engaged in sexual activity.
The officers said that after the foam parties close for the night, the minors then congregate outside the bar, sometimes in the hundreds, which leads to gang violence. Problem spots are along Franklin Road as well as at Runaround Sue’s, located on Church Street Extension just off Cobb Parkway near the Canton Road Connector.
A Council majority said they would meet police halfway by banning anyone 18 or younger. Councilwoman Annette Lewis said that if the problems persist, the Council can revise the ban in the future.
One exemption to the ban is if a minor works at a bar or lounge, as allowed under state law. The Council members decided to continue to allow that to occur.
“I wasn’t pleased with what came out tonight, but I think the Marietta Police Department will see how the age of 18 works out and certainly if that does not work out I see them back before this Council to make some changes in it,” said Councilman Anthony Coleman, who proposed the ban . “I don’t think this is a dead issue.”
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said the ban would not impact such businesses as Shillings on the Square that have a different kind of alcohol license as a restaurant that serves meals.
Mayor Steve Tumlin emphasized that point.
“You can take your 8-year-old child to Shillings or Willie Rae’s, but if you go to a place that’s just a good, old-fashioned honky-tonk, you’ve got to be 18 or older now,” Tumlin said.
In other business Wednesday, the Council approved a 10-pump, 24-hour QuikTrip gas station to be built on Powder Springs Street off Chestnut Hill Road. Brian Binzer, the city’s development services director, said the QuikTrip located nearby at the intersection of Powder Springs and Sandtown roads is closing to make way for the new gas station. QuikTrip is buying the 2-acre parcel from an LLC whose managing member is Bill Hagemann. The 5,720-square-foot building will have a four-sided brick façade.