Eminence tables liquor by the drink sales

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By The Staff

Staff writer and photographer

The Eminence City Council agreed on Monday night to table discussion regarding an amendment to the city's alcohol ordinance that could allow liquor by the drink sales in certain establishments.

The council decided it would be appropriate to wait until all members were present to make a vote. Council member George Armstrong III was not in attendance.

The amendment would allow liquor by the drink to be sold within the city in restaurants with a minimum seating capacity of 100. Under the current ordinance, only beer and wine are permitted in public establishments. Some believe that if passed, the change could allow for a much needed jump in economic growth for the city.

Eminence resident Kay Bennett argued against the ordinance, asserting that any potential growth by way of the ordinance is mostly theoretical.

"The proposed ordinance states that we have economic hardship in Eminence and that the sale of liquor by the drink could provide economic growth - not that it will, that it could," she said.

Bennett also called for a more creative approach to the city's fiscal struggles.

"Surely you have the intelligence to secure economic growth based on entertainment. If a company needs alcoholic beverages to succeed then something is wrong," she said. "Are you prepared to live with a decision that would provide more alcohol to our children?"

Bennett added that she felt the city sold out in 2006 when the city council voted to allow Sunday alcohol sales.

Bennet's husband Jim also spoke against the amendment, questioning why the amendment is even necessary.

"It seems senseless," he said. "Why would we want to provide another way to get alcohol when we already have places that sell it? Why would we want to throw another log on the fire?"

Tom Shroyer also spoke out against the amendment, calling liquor by the drink "the final frontier."

A catalyst for the new ordinance is the planned expansion of the Kentucky Renaissance Festival which includes a small hotel and convention center on the property.

Ed Frederick, General Manager of the Kentucky Renaissance Festival spoke in defense of the ordinance.

"Can the Renaissance festival survive without alcohol? Yes. Can we expand? Probably not. If we cannot serve liquor by the drink we cannot have a catering license," he said. "We can't hold private events. These are the little things that contribute to our inability to generate revenue. I'm not trying to change the system I'd just like to tweak it."

Frederick also said the Festival was not seeking to serve liquor by the drink at the Renaissance Festival itself.

Council member Danny Meadows said there hasn't been an alcohol related incident yet at the festival.

Council member Drane Stephens spoke firmly against the amendment. "We are heading in that direction, and it's a direction I don't like," he said. "I'm not for this - it's not a good direction for us to go."

Meadows suggested the council hold off on making a decision until Armstrong could be present.

The matter could be addressed once again at next months city council meeting. If all council members are present an official decision could be made.

In other business the council:

Heard the first reading of the new city waste disposal and garbage collection franchise ordinance.

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