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Vote is In

La Grange, Ky., residents pass
expansion of alcohol sales

Results become effective
60 days after election

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2012) – After months of debate, La Grange residents have voted to expand alcohol sales within the city limits. This brings more economic opportunity for those individuals who might want to open a new business in the city.
“Tourism is the one who started and took this on,” said Kim Buckler, executive director for the Oldham County Tourism Commis-sion. “We’re excited that we’re on the same page as residents of the city of La Grange. I can see future opportunities.”

Kim Buckler

"We’re excited that we’re on the same page as residents of the city of
La Grange."

– Kim Buckler, Oldham County tourism director

Results from the voting reveal that 751 individuals voted in favor of expanding alcohol sales and 338 voted against them. The ordinance allows for several things: liquor stores can open in the city of La Grange, restaurants with 100 or more seats can sell liquor as long as 50 percent of sales are from food, and businesses with 50 or more seats can sell wine as long as 50 percent of sales come from food.
One of the restrictions on the law is that establishments of any kind will not be given licenses to sell liquor by the drink without food.
The city of La Grange has the next two months to write an ordinance that will mandate taxes, said Buckler. The state, at some point, will have to put a letter in the county newspaper requesting an application for packaged liquor stores.
Results become effective 60 days after the election is certified; therefore, the city becomes ‘wet’ after 60 days. Of the 33 cities in the Commonwealth that are wet but the county has remained dry, 25 of them are fourth class cities like La Grange.
Buckler said she will soon send out a mailing to all small farm wineries within the county to let them know the city of La Grange is wet. Several buildings are vacant in the downtown area that she would like to see used by wineries.
There are “no plans as of now to go county-wide with the vote,” Buckler said. Several chefs and restaurants have inquired about this, thinking the vote would be county-wide, not city-wide.
Steve Humpress, General Council with the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), said that “there are more than 13,000 current licenses issued in the state of Kentucky.” The ABC is the department that regulates all traffic in alcoholic beverages within the state.
Humpress, who has been with the ABC since 2001, said it is pure speculation on his part to think that this vote will lead to county-wide liquor sales. Many voters feel an ordinance like this one will eventually become county wide.
Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele said he “felt that the vote would probably be approved. At one time, alcohol sales in La Grange and Oldham County overall, was a pretty negative subject.”
Within the last 20 years, the outlook on this subject has changed as more residents have moved in from places that sell alcohol as an accepted business practice, he said. “Those people are more open to sales than residents who have lived in the county for a longer period of time.”
Most opponents were concerned that passage of this vote my lead to abuses that would endanger people, or be traffic related, said Voegele.
“The Tourism Commission and merchants want the option for additional services, which will lead to more economic activity and employment and tax base,” he said.

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