Landrum proposes referendum on Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

Public hearing April 12
Landrum voters could decide this year whether its restaurants can sell alcohol on Sunday.
Landrum City Council approved Tuesday, March 8 the first reading of an ordinance to call for a referendum on this November’s election ballot.
Councilman Randy Wohnig voted against the ordinance.
A public hearing is scheduled for council’s next meeting on Tuesday, April 12 before council considers the second and final reading.
Landrum city officials held a meeting with area businesses in January. According to Mayor Bob Briggs, business owners said not being able to serve alcohol on Sunday hurts business. Most restaurants are not open on Sunday in Landrum.
Landrum restaurant owner Barbara Britt said the city is losing hospitality tax money to North Carolina, Spartanburg, S.C., and Greenville, S.C., because businesses cannot serve alcohol on Sundays.
“More hospitality tax money will help Landrum do more things to promote the city,” said Britt. “We’ve got to move forward. It’s going to help Landrum get back to where it used to be.”
Britt, who owns El Chile Rojo and Twigs restaurants in Landrum, said she ended up having to close on Sundays because business was so bad. People would come in to eat and when they found out about the Sunday alcohol ban, they would politely leave and go to Tryon or elsewhere in North Carolina just a few miles away, she said.
She said restaurants not being able to be open Sundays also hurts other merchants, because with businesses closed, tourists don’t come to Landrum to shop either.
“It’s not like our restaurants are a place for people to get drunk,” Britt said. “Some people just like to have a drink with their dinner.”
Briggs said council members feel this is a decision voters should make, not the city council.
“Council feels like our responsibility is to present it to the voters and let them decide,” Briggs said. “Council doesn’t feel like it’s a decision we should make.”
Another option to get a referendum on the ballot would be for the businesses to circulate a petition. If enough signatures were acquired, a referendum could be held.
Briggs said if a referendum is requested by a petition, the wording on the petition would be the exact wording on the referendum. If the city asks for a referendum, the city can decide the exact wording.
If the second reading of the ordinance is approved, the city will call for a referendum to determine whether the South Carolina Department of Revenue may issue temporary permits to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption on Sundays in the City of Landrum. If voters approved the referendum, only on-premise consumption would be allowed. Gas stations and grocery stores, for example, would not be allowed to sell alcohol to take off premises.
The wording of the referendum currently proposed to go on the ballot says, “Shall the South Carolina Department of Revenue be authorized to issue temporary permits in this city for a period not to exceed 24 hours to allow the possession, sale and consumption of alcoholic liquors by the drink to bona fide nonprofit organizations and restaurant establishments otherwise authorized to be licensed for consumption-on-premise sales?”
This year’s election will be held on Nov. 8.

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