Sunday alcohol debate pours on

City council hears much opposition to extending sale hours

People poured out of church vans and into the Lexington Government Center yesterday to speak out against the proposed ordinance that would allow alcohol sales on Sundays.

The Urban County Council held a work session that ended with a public hearing for community members to voice their opinions about the proposed alcohol ordinance change, which would expand the current law to allow package and by-the-drink sales of alcohol within certain times on Sundays.

Those who spoke against the law heavily outnumbered the people who spoke in favor of it in over two hours of public discussion.

The crowd heard the opinions of local business owners, students, citizens of surrounding cities and preachers from the area. Many students from Commonwealth Baptist College attended to speak out against the ordinance.

Nicole Anderson, a sophomore at the college, said her argument was very simple.

“The Bible says it is wrong,” Anderson said. “Sunday is God’s day and we should respect it.”

Sean Taylor, an undeclared sophomore at UK, said he felt that the church community did not fully represent the Fayette County community.

“Here they obviously organized to make it appear overwhelming,” Taylor said. “I feel like the churches are trying to get everyone to live by their moral code.”

There is more than religious opposition to the ordinance, said Nick Blades, a computer science junior. Blades said it is more about the reputation of UK.

“Do you want people to think of a college town as a learning center or as a crazy drunken party?” Blades said. “I don’t want my classmates coming into class Monday morning drunk. They don’t need help being any dumber than they already are, frankly.”

Taylor said that despite the large number of people in opposition, he still wanted to make his point in favor.

“What brought me here was trying to stand up for the majority of people in Fayette County and the right to be a responsible drinker,” Taylor said.

The small number of those in favor of the ordinance was proof that the idea of alcohol on Sundays is wrong, said Michelle Powers, a junior at Commonwealth Baptist College.

“If there were more people who wanted it, they would have shown up,” Powers said. “If you want something bad enough you’ll fight for it, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Fifth District Councilman David Stevens sponsored the ordinance, saying in the past that the change is needed for businesses to stay competitive with areas like Louisville and Northern Kentucky. He thought people were confused in their arguments yesterday.

“I think a lot of people don’t properly understand the ordinance,” Stevens said. “A lot of people recounted the evils of alcohol, and we’re not advocating that. We already have sales on Sunday, we’re just modifying the hours.”

The new ordinance would allow all restaurants, bars, liquor stores and grocery stores to sell alcohol by the drink as well as in package sales during specified hours. Distilled spirits and wine by the drink and beer by the package or drink would be allowed from 11 a.m. Sunday to 2:30 a.m. Monday.

Packages of spirits or wine would be available from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Currently, restaurants that seat at least 100 customers and make more than half their revenue from food sales can currently sell alcohol by the drink on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Stevens said that despite the comments of the opposition, he still stood behind the ordinance.

“I can’t speak for the other council members, but they didn’t change my mind,” he said.

The next vote for final approval on the ordinance could come as early as tomorrow.