County Moist Vote
on board for initiative
vote requires over 4,200 signatures
for fall referendum
LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2003) Oldham County residents
may have a decision to make about alcohol sales in the now-dry county
if the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce collects enough signatures
on the petition it is currently circulating. By the end of July, the
chamber had collected more than 1,500 signatures of the 4,252 needed
by early September in order to have the issue put to vote in November.
While the majority of votes were against alcohol sales
when the question was last posed in the county in 1987, demographic
and legislative changes that have occurred since that time have rekindled
interest in the issue. Those include a revision made to local option
laws by the General Assembly allowing Kentucky counties to legalize
the sale of alcoholic beverages only in restaurants that seat 100 or
more and that derive at least 70 percent of their gross receipts from
the sale of food.
Prior to 2000, you were either wet or dry, said chamber
president Joe Schoenbaechler.
Counties now have the option of becoming moist, allowing
alcohol sales by the drink in larger restaurants only and prohibiting
package sales. It is the question of whether Oldham should become a
moist county that the chamber hopes to see posed to voters this fall.
Concerns of members prompted the chamber to take the lead in sponsoring
the petition to add the moist vote to the ballot, according to chamber
board president Ed Hovan. When Oldham County became dry in the late
1940s, the distribution of alcohol was a moral issue. Now it appears
to be more of an economic one. While the countys residential population
has been growing steadily, its retail, industrial and commercial base
has failed to keep pace.
The consensus of the chamber was that we felt that this would
be good for the county, both for businesses and residents, said
Hovan. Hovan cited recent surveys that indicated 66 percent were in
favor of putting the issue to vote.
president Ed Hovan
While allowing restaurants that seat more than 100 to
sell alcohol would benefit only a couple of restaurants currently doing
business in the county, it would likely attract new ones. And not just
restaurants, but the other retail and entertainment outlets that go
along with them.
The advice that weve had and the experience weve seen
from other communities is that economic development is encouraged, both
commercial and industrial, in those communities where the serving of
alcoholic beverages is permitted, said Oldham County Economic
Develop-ment Authority chairman Fran Scott. Scott said that OCEDA therefore
supports the initiative of the chamber to get the issue put on the ballot,
allowing voters the final say.
Schoenbaechler said that the primary response to the chambers
proactive stance on the issue has been positive, but that there are
still some who are against alcohol sales of any sort.
Its a bit of an emotional issue. As soon as you tell people
what youre doing, theyre either obviously in favor of it
or obviously not. There doesnt seem to be a lot of middle ground,
According to Hovan, some are opposed to allowing alcohol sales in restaurants
because they believe it would quickly lead to package sales in the county.
Hovan said such a fear is unwarranted.
It does not automatically mean that we will eventually go wet,
Hovan said. To go to wet from moist we would have to go through
the same process with the petition and getting the vote on the ballot.
Thats not a realistic fear.
The chamber will hold two public forums in August in an attempt to educate
the public about the moist law and what to expect should
the county pass a law allowing liquor by the drink in large restaurants.
The forums are scheduled for Aug. 5 at the John W. Black Community Center
in Buckner and Aug. 11 at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen.
The forums will last from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. During that time, information
will be provided and residents will be given the opportunity to ask
Speaking on behalf of the chamber, Hovan said allowing liquor by the
drink in large restaurants would be a plus for the county. It
would improve both the business atmosphere as well as the personal atmosphere,
and thats why we decided to step up to the plate and get it on
Petition boxes have been placed at about 30 locations throughout the
For more information, contact the chamber office at (502)
Back to August 2003 Articles.