Wednesday, April 15, 2009

County gives final approval to Sunday alcohol sales, sought primarily by restaurants in Midway

By Meg Quigley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Woodford County Fiscal Court gave final approval Tuesday night to Sunday alcohol sales in Midway and the rest of the county outside Versailles.

The vote was 6-3, With Magistrates Larry Craig, Ellen Gormley, Geoffrey Reid, Gerald Dotson, Steve Barnett and James Staples voting yes. Charles “Bones” Webber, Jackie Brown and Judge-Executive John Coyle voted no.

Sunday drink licenses will cost restaurants and wineries $300 per year. They will also have to pay a $500 state fee, County Attorney Alan George told The Woodford Sun. Sunday sales are allowed between 1 and 10 p.m.

Sales will not be allowed in Versailles unless the city council reverses a 4-3 vote against them in February. The change was sought mainly by restaurants in Midway, which attract patrons from a wide area. Versailles makes some of its own alcohol rules but Midway is too small to do so, under state law.

The idea of Sunday alcohol sales has been a controversial topic for the past few months. The county deferred action on the restaurants' request until Versailles acted, then passed a motion by Craig to begin drafting the ordinance.

Brown, one of the opponents, said in an interview that personal safety could be at risk. “I just hope that we don’t get someone leaving a restaurant, after drinking, and get in a wreck,” he said, citing unspecified information he said he had found on the Internet about higher accident and crime rates when Sunday sales are allowed.

Coyle said in an interview that the way the ordinance was first presented to him sounded fine, but he didn’t agree with adding retailers to it.

“It was first presented as just restaurants needing the ability to compete with other restaurants and I was fine with that, then they added wineries, and I was fine with that, then they added package stores,” said Coyle.

He said alcohol sales in tourist attractions would help, especially with the World Equestrian Games coming up in 2010, but “I just don’t see package stores as a tourist attraction. It’s not like someone outside of Midway is going to choose to spend their day at a Midway retail store to buy beer.”

Craig said in an interview, ”It’s a good thing. It will make us more competitive with all the other counties, especially in time for the World Equestrian Games.” Frankfort and Lexington have had Sunday sales for some time, and the Georgetown council recently voted to start them.

The question now is: When will alcohol actually be sold on Sundays? Craig said that restaurants, wineries and package stores must apply at the county level, then the license will be sent to Frankfort for approval.

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