Public speaks out for Sunday alcohol sales

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By Lisa King

More than 50 people showed up Tuesday at the Stratton Center to attend a public meeting on a proposed ordinance to allow Sunday alcohol sales in the county.

The purpose of the meeting, held by the Shelby County Fiscal Court, was to allow public comment on the issue. Of the 12 people who voiced their opinions to the court, only one person spoke against Sunday alcohol sales. Most of those present wore yellow stickers proclaiming, "Business Equality in Shelby County."

Dave Hamlin, senior minister at Shelby Christian Church, told the group that his opposition to Sunday sales in the county was not a personal vendetta, but a desire to keep Sunday as "the Lord's day."

"Persimmon Ridge and the Cardinal Club are two of my favorite places," he said. "I realize that some people could easily say, well, it's just one more day...so it would be my desire that the magistrates would once again take a stand."

Some of those who spoke, including Lawren Just, president and CEO of the Persimmon Ridge Golf Course, said she felt the issue was not as much alcohol-related as an issue of equality among businesses.

"The issue that we are concerned with is that in Shelby County, there are 71 licensed facilities who serve their customers," she said. "Nine of us are outside the city limits of Shelbyville, and even though our license is the same, we are not allowed to serve our customers on Sunday where other businesses are allowed to do that. The issue that I have with it is that it's inequality in competition."

Just said the inability to sell alcohol on Sunday has caused a lack of revenue not only for her business, but also for the county, adding that she loses many weddings, corporate parties and other functions, which often take place on Sunday, for that reason.

Many other people echoed her concern, including John Sobecky, general manager of the Cardinal Club, Matt Simons with Sergios restaurant and Tommy Settles with Claudia Sanders Dinner House.

Some magistrates asked people in the audience questions. Tony Carriss asked Just if she was concerned about losing golf tournaments because of the issue.

She replied that yes, in fact that the PGA Golf Tournament would not come to a facility that doesn't serve alcohol on Sunday.

Cordy Armstrong asked that people in the audience raise their hands if they lived in Persimmon Ridge, and more than half did.

Shelby County Judge Rob Rothenburger asked Settles if Claudia Sanders has lost revenue because of the inability to sell alcohol on Sunday, and Settles said that the restaurant has "lost countless revenue."

The matter of Sunday alcohol sales will come before the fiscal court for a second reading on May 27. The ordinance, which passed its first reading earlier in the month, would allow Sunday liquor sales by the glass at restaurants and golf courses which seat at least 100 people or derive a minimum of 70 percent of sales from food. If it passes its second reading, it would be an amendment to an ordinance passed in November 2000 which allowed alcohol to be sold in the county Monday through Saturday.

This makes the third time the matter has been brought before the fiscal court. Magistrate Michael Riggs has raised the matter this time as well as previously, but the proposal was not supported by the other magistrates.

When asked how he thinks the vote will go this time, Rothenburger said he has no idea.

He added that if anyone wishes to make a comment to the fiscal court about the issue, they may still do so until noon on May 22 by contacting his office in the following manner:

By phone: (633-1220)

By fax: (633-7623)

By email: (www.shelbycountykentucky.com)