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Sunday liquor sales back on the table

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By Lisa King

The county will once again tackle the issue of Sunday liquor sales.

The Shelby County Fiscal Court will hear public comment at the Stratton Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 13.

At the court's May 6 meeting, magistrates passed a first reading on an ordinance that 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.

Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger said an ordinance was passed in November 2000 which allowed liquor to be sold under the above circumstances in the county Monday through Saturday.

"This would be an amendment to that ordinance," he said.

That is, if number three is indeed the charm.

"This is the third time this has come up since I've been on board," Rothenburger said.

Magistrate Michael Riggs has brought the matter before the fiscal court previously, the last time just over a year ago, when he asked the court to consider permitting alcohol sales for one day only because New Year's Eve fell on a Sunday.

"But it wouldn't fly," he said.

Riggs said he felt the time is right to bring up the issue again.

But if support from the magistrates is no better than the last two times the matter was brought up, the issue will once again be dead in the water.

The last time, the matter failed because no one would second Rigg's motion for Sunday sales. The time before that, the issue lost by a 6-1 vote, Rothenburger said.

The other magistrates stated previously that they opposed Sunday liquor sales because they represent the voice of their constituents, who were against it. Cordy Armstrong, Allen Ruble, Tony Carriss and Betty Curtsinger all told the Sentinel-News in a previous interview that the majority of residents in their districts did not want Sunday sales.

Riggs said he keeps bringing up the issue because he feels it's unfair to county business people not to have the same rights as city merchants.

"It's simply an economic situation with the businesses in the county," he said. "But these people are at a tremendous disadvantage. It's not that they want to get more business, they just don't want to lose the business that they would normally have. Also, there's a lot of businesses that won't locate here unless they can have their property annexed into the city, because of that."

Riggs said there are about 61 businesses in the city of Shelbyville that are currently allowed to sell alcohol on Sunday, and only six or seven businesses in the county that the proposed ordinance would apply to. He added that although he understands the point of view of those who have opposed the Sunday liquor sales in the past, it isn't fair to allow some businesses to sell alcohol on Sunday and not others.

"A lot of the churches have said that it's God's day, and I understand that," he said. "But I say if you don't want alcohol to be sold on Sunday, then eliminate it altogether. Otherwise allow our businesses to sell it too. That's the whole issue in a nutshell."

The city of Shelbyville passed its Sunday alcohol sales ordinance in August 1988, according to the staff at Mayor Tom Hardesty's office.

The proposal that will be up for discussion at the public hearing May 13 would allow the sale of drinks by the glass on Sundays from 1-11 p.m. at restaurants and private clubs, including Persimmon Ridge Golf Course.

The earliest that the proposal could come before the fiscal court for a second reading would be on Tuesday, May 27. There will be no meeting of the fiscal court on May 20, due to Election Day.

Lawren Just, president and CEO of Persimmon Ridge, located in western Shelby County, said she intends to be at the public meeting on Tuesday, and she hopes that magistrates will extend the same privilege to their residents that the city council did to city residents.

"All I ask is that my business be treated equally," she said. "Our business should be allowed to make the same sales as businesses in the city. It's not fair to be treated unequally because of some silly annexation law."

She added that her business, like others, is "not a beer joint or a dive," but a respectable establishment.

Just said she also knows that some magistrates have "issues because it's Sunday," but that they need to set personal feelings aside.

"You need to have a separation of church and state when you're a representative of the public," she said. "It should not be up to them to decide how people should spend their day of rest."

Sunday liquor sales meeting information

Stratton Community Center on Tuesday, May 13

Meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

Meeting will focus only on Sunday liquor sales

Only opportunity for public comment concerning issue

For more information, call 633-1220