Could MW be first to allow sale of liquor on Sunday?

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON - Sunday liquor by the drink sales could be just around the corner if Mount Washington City Council heeds the advice of a committee appointed to re-evaluate the city's current alcoholic beverage ordinance.

The committee, created by Mayor Joetta Calhoun, is made up of council members Greg Gentry, Brent Wheeler and Gary Lawson, as well as Mount Washington Alcoholic Beverage Control Officer Melvin Davis.

After several meetings, the committee made its recommendations to the council at Monday's meeting. Among those recommendations was that the council consider the benefits of liquor by the drink sales on Sunday for restaurants only.

"We're looking to bring more business to Mount Washington," Wheeler said. "If this town wants to draw the business and the tax rates . . . that's just our recommendation."

The current ordinance prohibits Sunday sales for both retail stores and restaurants.

A small crowd at the meeting showed little opposition to the recommendation, which would need to be included in a revised ordinance. The council must then hold a first and second reading on the revised ordinance before any changes could be made.

Restaurant owner Josh Spaulding doesn't understand why the committee didn't recommend extending the hours of alcohol sales. The current cut-off time for alcohol sales in the city is midnight. According to state statutes, patrons have 30 minutes after the cut-off time to finish their drinks.

"Why is it that much harder to have people consume after midnight, then add nine hours of sales on a Sunday?" Spaulding said.

Spaulding had addressed the council in the past, claiming that the cut-off time for alcohol sales hurt his business, causing patrons to travel to Jefferson County after midnight.

Wheeler said the committee spent several hours discussing the issue and felt the original ordinance, passed in 2003, reflected the community's desire to promote restaurants, not bars.

Spaulding owns Kettle Creek restaurant.

"I think the reason they put liquor by the drink was for restaurants," Wheeler said.

First Baptist Church of Mount Washington Pastor Paul Chitwood said that anytime alcohol sales are extended, it is negative for the community.

"I would be opposed to it," Chitwood said. "To continue to extend alcohol sales is a bad decision for the community."

Chitwood - who wasn't pastor of the church in 2003 when the ordinance was originally passed - said many of his church's staff members opposed the original ordinance.

"We had staff members attend council meetings and we did speak in opposition," Chitwood said.

Davis said he felt the committee was making the recommendations that had the community's best interests in mind.

"I think everyone on the committee tried to have an eye for the future," Davis said. "I think it's going to have to be addressed pretty soon in order to keep up."

Cut-Rate Liquors owner Debbie Summitt said that if the council passes an ordinance to allow Sunday sales, it should apply to packaged liquor sales as well.

"(Customers) can go to Jefferson County and get it there," Summitt said. "You wouldn't believe on Sundays the people that stop and ask (if we're open)," she said.

However, the recommendation remained only for restaurant liquor by the drink sales.

Pastor Van Morris of Calvary Christian Center agreed with Chitwood.

"I'm never in favor of seeing an increase in liquor sales," he said.

In a previous interview, Shepherdsville/Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission Executive Director Elaine Wilson, said Sunday sales are controversial but important to furthering Bullitt County's economic future.

"That seems to be a benchmark that the dining facilities want to have," she said. "We know the community we represent and they are very conservative and we are too. . . but we also want to bring more money into the community."

No decisions were made as to when, or if, a revised ordinance would be created.

Some other recommendations made about the city's current alcoholic beverage sales ordinance included:

- Any servers handling alcoholic beverages should have 60 days after hiring to complete the state's alcoholic beverage server training. The recommendation included that the servers renew their training every three years.

Davis said that was important because it helps servers know how to deal with intoxicated patrons, as well as how to identify someone who is intoxicated.

-Removing the sign regulations from the alcoholic beverage ordinance, claiming they should be included in the city's separate sign ordinance. Gentry said the sign regulations in the current alcoholic beverage ordinance are unfair, because they allow for stores selling packaged liquor to advertise with signs, but establishments selling liquor by the drink cannot.