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Package liquor sales possible in Hillview on Sundays

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By Thomas Barr

 HILLVIEW -- Could stores have the opportunity to sell package liquor on Sundays in the city of Hillview?

That is a question which could be answered as early as next month.

Councilmember Karen Johnson said she was worried about people who travel outside the county to purchase liquor and then drive home on Sundays.

And she is also worried about those who decide to go into restaurants and drink and then drive home.

Plus, she said local businesses are put at a disadvantage because they can't sell package liquor.

As a result, she asked city attorney Mark Edison to draft an ordinance.

Currently, the city of Hillview allows liquor by the drink to be sold on Sundays in restaurants which seat 100 people and have 70 percent of their  sales from food items.

Johnson said she was only interested in allowing convenience stores and liquor stores to have the ability to sell their products.

"I'm just trying to keep the drunk drivers off the road and still help our businesses," said Johnson.

Edison said the proposed ordinance, which had its first reading at the July meeting, has some conflicts with the existing liquor ordinance. Plus, in the past month, the state alcohol laws changed. Among one of the changes is allowing local governments to determine whether the former prohibition of alcohol sales on election day should be altered.

In a fourth class municipality like Hillview, Edison said hours and conditions can be set for liquor sales.

When the Sunday sales were allowed for restaurants, one of the driving factors was the economic hardship on local businesses just minutes away from Jefferson County, which allowed the Sunday sales.

Another  provision in the new laws is to allow local governments to allow less resstrictive conditions, such as only having 50 seats and food sales of as little as 50 percent.

Sampling of products, which is more commonly done in the wineries, could also be allowed. 

Penalties for violations are also new and a third offense is a Class D felony.

In Mount Washington, Edison alluded to a recent article in The Pioneer News where some requests were made to allow a licensed establishment to do an off-site event.

Mayor Jim Eadens said the council knew that his position would be in opposition to any expansion of the current laws.

He feared that changes could open the door to more bars to locate in the city, which could bring other problems for law enforcement.

"Be careful what you wish for," warned Eadens.

Councilmember JoAnn Wick said she wasn't too concerned with allowing establishments to sell package liquor on Sundays, especially with Jefferson County businesses within inches of the county line.

Johnson said if a bar wanted to open, it would still have to seat 100 patrons and have 70 percent of its revenue from food sales as she would not want to see those provisions altered.

She used an example of Brooks Liquor being located next to a pizza business off Brooks Hill Road.

While customers could go and have a beverage next door, the liquor store was closed.

She would rather have people buy their liquor and take it home than to have them drinking and then driving on the road.

The second reading is set for the Aug. 19 meeting. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the government center. The public is invited to attend.