By 17 votes, Harrodsburg approves sale of alcohol by the drink

November 05, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Voters in this city approved the sale of alcohol by the drink, but not by much.

Only 17 votes separated the victors from the losers, a smaller margin than the way city voters cast their ballots in last year's election.

Had the city voted by itself in 2002, the dry forces would have won by less than 70 votes, but it was that narrow margin that encouraged the wet forces to go to city voters, asking if them to approve the sale of liquor by the drink in certain restaurants in the city.

"We're glad the people of Harrodsburg spoke up," said Phillip Crump, who led the wet forces this time out. It is the fourth effort in five years to legalize the sale of alcohol here, and while it appears the wet forces have won, it may not be set in stone.


Mike Conover, one of the leaders of the group trying to keep Harrodsburg and Mercer County dry, said the issue could go on the ballot in three years and could be repealed. A re-canvass may be requested by the losing side.

"We feel like they will and we respect them for that," said Crump. Conover said there are people in his group who will look into that possibility.

Conover said the people who have tried to keep the city and county dry will be watching carefully. "I think people are going to be looking to see how this is handled and to see if there is an increase in dangerous activity."

Crump's group already has thought about that. "I think this shows we were not for package liquor stores; we were for passing liquor by the drink and we're for responsible drinking." Throughout the four efforts to approve the sale of alcoholic beverages, the sponsors have said they are only interested in helping the local economy.

"Personally, it's very gratifying for the people of Harrodsburg, and I think we need to advertise that people can have dinner and a drink and act responsibly," Crump said. "I think the most important thing is people will be spending money at home."

Tourism and agriculture battle for the top source of income here, and the historic nature of Harrodsburg brings tourists from other states and other countries, Crump said.

"It's good for people to visit here," he said. "It speaks volumes for a small community that has a lot of history (to approve liquor by the drink.)"

Conover pointed to the small margin by which his group lost and made an interesting assessment. The wet side has not had a significant increase in the number of votes it has received.

"The dry vote has decreased," he said. "A plurality does not exist. I think (when the figures are studied) that it will show voters went to the polls, but did not vote on this issue and that lack of votes (gave the other side a victory.)"

While not disagreeing with Conover, Crump credited other conditions for the victory.

"One thing I think is good is the people got out the vote and I think the weather probably helped. The first settlement west of the Alleghenies has come into a new century."

What happens next is unknown by the supporters of liquor by the drink. The vote was limited to restaurants in the city and few restaurants there meet the criteria that are called for in the law. Restaurants must seat at least 100 people and 70 percent of the income must come from the sale of food.

Beaumont Inn, Golden Corral, and the building that once housed Stone Manor Restaurant and for a brief time was the home of Tovey's Fine Dining, seat 100 people.

Before any liquor licenses are sold, city government will have to appoint an administrator, according to Janet Williams, assistant director to the Distilled Spirits administrator of the Alcoholic Beverage Control board in Frankfort.

ABC will have to be informed who that person is and fees for liquor licenses will be established based on the size and class of the city. No license can be issued for 60 days from the time the order is signed by Mercer County Judge-Executive John Trisler and entered into the county order book, Williams said today.

Editor's note: Staff Writer Liz Maples supplied information for this story.

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