The Ashland Board of City Commissioners Thursday unanimously gave second and final approval to an ordinance allowing the Sunday sale of beer and alcohol in both restaurants and package stores in the city’s two “wet” downtown precincts.
The vote came after Ashland Corporation Counsel Richard “Sonny” Martin agreed with a local pastor that most residents of the two precincts who cast ballots in a special Feb. 26 election thought they were only voting for the Sunday sale of liquor by the drink in restaurants.
“It is my understanding that members of this commission are taking it upon themselves to greatly expand what people thought they were voting for by allowing beer and liquor to be sold in stores on Sunday,” said Dr. Floyd Paris, pastor of Unity Baptist Church on 29th Street.
Martin said the issue was poorly worded on the ballot and it never made a distinction between the sale of alcohol by the drink and in package stores. Based on that, Martin said he gave the commission three options concerning the sale of alcohol on Sunday: (1) alcohol by the drink in restaurants; (2) beer and alcohol by the drink in restaurants, and (3) beer and alcohol by the drink in restaurants and in containers in package stores. The commission chose the third option.
“I ask commissioners to exercise some wisdom here and not greatly expand on what voters were voting on by sending this into mediocrity,” Paris said. “You are going much beyond what the voters were told they were voting on.”
Commissioner Marty Gute said voters overwhelmingly approved the Sunday sale of alcohol because proponents of Sunday sales outworked the opponents.
“I received zero calls on this issue before the vote,” Gute said. While the Ashland Area Ministerial Association had one letter in The Independent opposing Sunday sales, those supporting Sunday sales made telephone calls and spent many hours asking people to support the issue.
“I am representing the 209 people who voted on Feb. 26, including the 159 who supported Sunday sales,” Gute said.
The ordinance was approved 4-0 with commissioner Cheryl Spriggs not present for the brief commission meeting.
In other action, the commission voted to give business owners Brad Crawford and Janet Marsh more time to bring their businesses into compliance with city requirements for asphalt and concrete.
Crawford asked when the city had determined that only asphalt and concrete could be used for businesses to comply with city requirements for business lots. He said he had used 125 tons of limestone on his property and was not aware that the lot had to be paved.
City Manager Steve Corbitt said the city has required the use of asphalt or concrete on lots for as long as he can remember. Gravel has never been an option, he said.
Crawford said he has “spent my budget” and needed time for his business to generate revenue so he could afford to bring the lot into compliance. The commission gave him until Sept. 1, and later extended the deadline for Marsh.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at email@example.com or at (606) 326-2649.