Cobb to amend Braves stadium vending rule for violators

Cobb County will tweak an ordinance regulating vendors outside SunTrust Park, but the changes will likely not address pushback over what some have characterized as special treatment for the Atlanta Braves.

Starting next season, The Braves will make SunTrust its new home. The team also owns the adjacent mixed-use development called The Battery, which was granted an exemption to the county’s rule against peddling without a license earlier this year.

The new ordinance would give The Braves the authority to decide who may sell souvenirs or food from a cart or kiosk within The Battery, a move critics say gives the team an unfair advantage.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend the vending ordinance while the county amends the language pertaining to violations. The rule includes what the county has described as “standard misdemeanor language” including fines and jail time.

Community Development Director Dana Johnson said the county was responding to criticism of a separate rule restricting private parking lots around the stadium, which also carried a threat of fines and jail time for violators. That rule was suspended pending changes last month.

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“The vending ordinance really only covers the area around The Battery,” Johnson said after Tuesday’s vote. “We just want to make sure that it is consistent” with changes to the parking rule, he added.

There are no plans to amend the substance of the vending ordinance allowing the Braves to determine vending policy at The Battery, Johnson said. He said he anticipates the section on violations will be amended to reference state law, effectively leaving the matter in the hands of the magistrate court.

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