Old Bridge gets voters' approval to sell alcohol

December 24, 2003|GARY MOYERS

When Boyle County Sheriff LeeRoy Hardin read the vote totals for the Lexington Road precinct special election Tuesday evening at the courthouse, Bruce Brown asked him to repeat himself.

"I guess I just needed to hear it again," said Brown, president of Old Bridge Inc., and PGA professional at Old Bridge Golf Club. "We've worked so hard for this and have so much riding on it."

The "it" he referred to was the proposal on the ballot to allow the golf course to sell liquor by the drink. The measure passed 125-79, a total representing slightly more than 25 percent of the registered voters in the precinct. The yes vote carried the machine total 109-75 and the absentee ballot total 16-4.

Brown said he and his partners plan to waste no time putting the process in motion to sell alcohol at the golf course on Ky. 34.


"We will begin the application process immediately with the (Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control)," said Brown. "We want to meet with the Health Department to determine what we need to do to meet their regulations, and we want to meet with the Old Bridge Neighborhood Association again to reassure them about our plans."

Brown said despite concerns by some residents near the course, his plans are to sell liquor only during course hours.

"We're not going to build a bar," he said. "Definitely not. When the course closes, the grill will close, and so will alcohol sales. This service will be for the people on the course."

The rules for the course, however, will differ from those involved in alcohol sales in Danville, which voted to allow liquor by the drink in restaurants that seat 100 or more persons and derive 70 percent or more of their revenue from food sales.

Old Bridge will not be governed by either the seating capacity or the revenue stipulation, and will be allowed to serve only beer on Sundays, according to ABC Deputy Commissioner Dan Gahafer. Since Old Bridge is located in a county precinct, Gahafer said Boyle Judge-Executive Tony Wilder or his designated appointee will serve as the enforcement officer.

The license application process is similar to that followed by Danville restaurants, however. The Golf Club will be required to advertise its intention to apply for the license, and employees who will be involved with the sales will be required to attend mandatory education regarding laws and responsibilities.

Brown said the measure will allow his course to be more competitive with other courses in the area which sell alcohol, and that profits from the sales will be sunk back into the course.

"We have some upgrades we've wanted to finish for some time, like completing the cart paths, for instance," he said. "We believe this added revenue will enable us to take the course itself to the next level, which will draw more golfers and keep our existing clientele happy. We have competition in this area from courses as far as facilities are concerned, and this lets us get up to their level."

Brown said the liquor sales will be done in an expanded grill inside the clubhouse itself.

"We're going to expand the food menu to try and offer our patrons more options, including meals," he said. "We feel we have an obligation to our golfers and our neighbors to keep Old Bridge a respectable place, a nice place where people can come out, play golf and eat when they're finished."

Brown said he takes his relationship with his neighbors seriously, particularly the ones who live in Old Bridge subdivision.

"The neighborhood is our partner, and they will be happy with what we do," he said. "We've worked with the Neighborhood Association throughout the process, and it's important to us that we reassure them about our intentions."

The Lexington Road precinct stretches from Ky. 33 to Ky. 34, and from the county line to the outer city limits line.

"The voter total was about the same as the one in 2001 with the Old Crow Winery," said County Clerk Denise Curtsinger. "I think the rainy weather and the odd date combined helped keep the turnout low. It was about what we expected."

According to the Kentucky ABC, there are seven courses in the state that have taken advantage of the law under which Old Bridge petitioned for the special election - two in Madison County and one each in Callaway, Jessamine, Shelby, Union and Hardin counties. After Danville was voted wet in November 2002, the precinct containing Old Bridge became eligible for the proposal under KRS 242.123. That law passed in the spring of 2000 by the Kentucky General Assembly, and allowed "regulation" golf courses in dry counties containing a city that has voted to discontinue prohibition to petition for a special election that would allow the course to sell liquor by the drink .

Old Crow Winery in Boyle County took advantage of a similar law by persuading voters in the SS. Peter and Paul precinct in a December 2001 election to allow wine sales at the winery.

The law affecting golf courses allows the course to sell liquor by the drink - not package sales - anywhere on the course, including specially-constructed buildings separate from the main pro shop.

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