County to vote on
alcohol sales in La Grange
officials support it
to increase traffic to the city
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (April 2012) Registered voters
within the La Grange city limits are being urged to sign a petition
to hold a special election centering on alcohol laws. The Oldham County
Tourism Commission is behind this push in the hopes of increasing attraction
options to bring new visitors into the city and keep existing residents
from spending their dollars elsewhere.
The petition is a vehicle to get signatures showing
that enough people in the city are interested in having a special election
to vote for what they want in their city, said Kim Buckler, Executive
Director of the Oldham County Tourism Commission.
This proposed change would make La Grange, a fourth-class city, a wet
city. For a vote to be held, 870 individuals must sign the petition
and then be verified as registered La Grange voters. The next step would
be for county government to establish a date for the special election
to be held.
The wet vote would allow for the city to become wet with certain
provisions, said Buckler. It makes sense to the Tourism Commission
to target La Grange because that is where our lodging facilities
are located. Our lodging guests have been clear as to what changes they
would like to see happen to better their stay.
Buckler said most guests did not realize until told that there were
still communities in this day and age without a place to buy alcohol.
Our out-of-state Derby and NASCAR visitors have been in disbelief
to learn that a state known for its bourbon still has communities where
you cant buy it freely.
Natasha Vittitow, manager of Holiday Inn Express, said she has lost
room sales because of the citys inability to provide package alcohol
sales. Vittitow said she has had complaints that you cant
buy alcohol here. People have come in and left.
Vittitow said that if the vote passed, it would help my business
tremendously. People would stay in town, eat in the restaurants and
shop in the local stores.
La Grange is classified a fourth-class city based on population. We
have a right by state stature, to target just La Grange in this
petition, said La Grange City Mayor Bill Lammlein.
If such a vote were to pass, he sees huge economic gains for the city.
We have a large number of people going to Jefferson County to
buy alcohol by the bottle in liquor stores. We hope to keep those people
in La Grange, and by doing so, keep their spending money within
The wet vote would permit package liquor stores to be located within
the city limits. Based on population, La Grange could have three package
The bottom line is this, said Buckler, if we can keep
those folks in Oldham County we are less likely to lose other sales
such as groceries, gas, gifts, hardware, etc. A goal of tourism, in
general, is to keep visitors as busy as you can in your community so
you dont run the risk of them staying too long in another one
and spending their money there. If someone has to go to another community
to get what they want or expect, they will do other things while they
Linda Goin, Executive Director of Discover Downtown La Grange, said,
To be able to sell alcohol in La Grange could help to retain both
sales and tax dollars that normally go elsewhere.
From her perspective, Going wet would be an absolute economic
advantage to La Grange. Even though tourists will still travel
to wineries and bourbon distilleries, the ability for resident
countywide and tourists to purchase alcohol in La Grange only helps
to keep a lot of dollars in this town and in the county.
Goin sees going wet as an economic advantage for people who stock home
bars with package sales from counties outside Oldham County. Goin said
she would encourage everyone who resides in La Grange and who
is a registered voter to sign the petition, because even if that person
is against alcohol sales in La Grange, he or she will have a chance
to vote on that choice.
If approved, the wet vote would open the door for current smaller restaurants
that have less than 100 seats to serve beer with no food-to-beer sales
percentage, said Buckler. It would allow those restaurants with at least
50 seats the option for a wine permit with a 50/50 food-to-wine percentage.
The current liquor ordinance will not change with this vote.
The advantage to going wet is that more restaurants can open I
smaller places, providing both tourists and residents with more options
for dining and drinking, Goin said.
Lammlein sees absolutely no negative effect to expanding
current liquor laws and making La Grange wet.
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