Aldermen plan to revise Sunday alcohol ordinance

August 14, 2009 10:08:00 AM

Tim Pratt -


The Starkville Board of Aldermen is expected to vote Tuesday on proposed amendments to the city''s alcohol ordinance after it holds a second public hearing on the matter.  


But the amendments have been revised since Aug. 4 when aldermen held the first hearing. Citizens at the Aug. 4 hearing were concerned because the amendments not only would have allowed alcohol sales on Sundays, but also extended the hours businesses would have been able to sell alcohol by two hours on weeknights, from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m., and one hour on Friday and Saturday nights, from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. 


The version up for discussion Tuesday won''t include the longer hours, except on Sundays. It would allow businesses to sell alcohol from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays -- alcohol sales currently are illegal on Sundays -- while hours throughout the rest of the week would remain the same. 


Citizens at the first public hearing also were concerned because the city was considering an amendment that would have shortened the distance alcohol-selling businesses must be located away from churches, schools, funeral homes and day care centers from 250 feet to 100 feet. The amendments up for consideration Tuesday won''t include that reduction in distance, but they will include a change in the way the city measures the distances. The city currently measures from building to building, but the new ordinance would allow the city to measure from property line to property line, Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said. 


Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said Thursday the ordinance amendments have been revised since Aug. 4 because of the public outcry over the reduction from 250 to 100 feet, and because of the fear of longer hours throughout the rest of the week. He plans to make a motion Tuesday to approve the revised ordinance amendments, which still would have to be approved by the State Tax Commission''s Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control. 


Dumas believes Sunday alcohol sales would help the city bring in more businesses and tax revenue, and it would give the city a progressive image.  


"Do we know how much tax revenue will be produced? No, but we do know that with archaic laws on the books like the ones that we currently have, we close the door on a number of retail and restaurant organizations that might otherwise want to move to a university town," Dumas said in an e-mail. "The reality of the global market and the 21st century is that these laws do make a difference and when businesses evaluate and analyze communities, this is all part of the equation. With our current economic outlook, I think it is in the best interest of this community to encourage progressive growth and development and not discourage it." 


Opponents to Sunday sales have cited religious, moral and safety concerns. They also fear an extra day of alcohol sales would stress local police departments as they wage war against drunken drivers.  


The Board of Aldermen meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall. The public hearing will take place during the meeting.