Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fiscal court moves toward allowing Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages in restaurants and stores

By Meg Quigley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Woodford County Fiscal Court Tuesday night ordered drafting of an ordinance to allow Sunday sales of alcohol, a move primarily sought by restaurants in Midway to boost tourist business.

The 5-2 vote directed County Attorney Alan George to draft an ordinance allowing sales from 1 to 10 p.m. on Sundays in the county outside the county seat of Versailles, which turned down Sunday sales last week. The ordinance would allow sales of packaged alcohol in stores as well as restaurants.

Versailles makes some of its own alcohol rules but Midway’s are governed by Fiscal Court. Three restaurants in Versailles and five in Midway have asked for Sunday sales.

Midway Magistrate Larry Craig made the motion to draft the ordinance and was supported by Magistrates Ellen Gormley, Geoff Reid, Gerald Dotson and Jim Staples. Charles “Bones” Webber and Jackie Brown voted no, and Steve Barnett was absent.

Craig said in an interview that regardless of his personal opinion, his job is to represent the people in Midway and this is what they asked him to do. “If we’re going to do it, let’s start now,” he said. “If we’re going to attract people to these restaurants, we’ve got to be competitive with our surrounding cities.”

Brown, who lives on McCowan's Ferry Road between Versailles and Mortonsville, said in an interview, “I have a strong belief that we don’t need it. We don’t need to be selling on Sundays, it’s sabbath day, we already do it six days a week.”

Midway restaurants say they need Sunday sales to compete with restaurants in Lexington and Frankfort, especially with the World Equestrian Games coming in 2010. The council in Georgetown, the same distance from Midway as the other two cities, is debating Sunday alcohol and is scheduled to decide the issue next month.

In October, Midway restaurants Bistro La Belle, The Black Tulip, Holly Hill Inn, Darlin’ Jeans and Quirk gave Fiscal Court a petition to allow Sunday sales. The Heirloom restaurant has since joined the bandwagon.

Craig told The Woodford Sun that he wants the ordinance to also allow retail sales, to avoid what he called discrimination between retailers and restaurants. He told the newspaper that if restaurant sales were approved, retailers would ask for the privilege. "Do it all at once, be done with it," he said. "Or turn it down, all at once, and be done with it." The license fee would be $300 for restaurants and $125 for package stores.

Mark Wombles, owner of Heirloom, said in an interview that alcohol sales on Sunday coincide with alcohol sales in general. “They should legalize it or take it away completely,” he said.

Midway’s population of 1,620 makes it a fifth-class city, which prohibits its city council from making its own decision on the issue. A first draft of the ordinance will be presented at the next Fiscal Court meeting March 10. A second reading would come March 24. If the ordinance passes it will take effect as soon as it uis advertised in the Sun.

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