Magistrate: Boyle businesses organizing for wet vote this fall

Published 6:20 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Voters may get to choose whether to legalize alcohol sales in the unincorporated portions of Boyle County this fall.

Boyle County Magistrate Jason Cullen said this week that some local restaurants and businesses are organizing to “hopefully” get a local option question about legalizing alcohol sales on this November’s General Election ballot.

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“I know you don’t like me talking about this —” Cullen prefaced his comments on Tuesday.

“You’re going to anyway, right?” Judge-Executive Howard Hunt added.

“I am,” Cullen responded, explaining that added alcohol sales could be a new revenue source for the county coffers.

“I know the court doesn’t want to take a stance on it,” he said. “… considering every city is wet, I don’t understand why the county wouldn’t be.”

Danville went from “moist” — allowing alcohol sales by the drink — to “wet” — allowing package liquor sales — in 2010. Junction City went wet in 2011; Perryville followed suit in 2016.

Cullen said there are restaurants and businesses outside of the county’s three cities that want to sell alcohol and cannot. Someone in the Old Bridge subdivision off of Ky. 34 in eastern Boyle County, for example, has to drive all the way back into Danville to Chill’s to buy a six-pack of beer, he said. If alcohol sales were legal county-wide, there are many small stores closer to where county residents live that could benefit, he said.

“As a person that doesn’t drink, I still wholeheartedly support this county going wet because I think it’s kind of silly when everything inside the county is wet already,” Cullen said.


Not the first mention of wet vote


In September, economic development leaders discussed the possibility of a county-wide local option election that could legalize alcohol sales everywhere in Boyle County.

“We have been contacted by the owners of a restaurant located in the unincorporated area of Boyle County (outside the three cities) with interest in pursuing legalized alcohol sales to help sustain their business,” Jody Lassiter, president of the Economic Development Partnership, wrote in a report to the EDP executive committee at the time. “Previously, we have been approached by owners of convenience stores or vacant properties in the county that wish to legalize sale of beer/malt beverages.”

Lassiter’s report also noted a prospective farm winery project seeking annexation into Perryville, which could be “difficult given the multiple properties between the city boundary and” the farm.

“All of this indicates that there is a clear competitive disadvantage for current businesses and future business development in the unincorporated areas of the county, particularly given the complexity, effort and uncertainty of annexation, a special precinct election (available for farm wineries) or a countywide referendum,” Lassiter wrote in September. “Given the successful legalization of alcohol sales in the three cities to date, is it time to consider a countywide referendum to remove this barrier?”


Other business


In other business this week:

  • The fiscal court approved new deed restrictions for the newly created Veterans Memorial Park tract of land that has been split off from the property the county owns at White’s Park, next to the old fairgrounds property on the Danville Bypass. The deed restrictions are intended to protect the use of the land so it can only be used as a memorial for veterans. After every 30 years, the restrictions automatically renew for another 30 years, unless a future fiscal court takes action to change them.
  • Judge-Executive Hunt said discussions about Northpoint Training Center giving Boyle County land for a new county jail facility are “in limbo” due to the transition from Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to Gov. Andy Beshear. “We’re just letting nature take its course right now,” Hunt said, adding that he believes he still has strong support for acquiring the land and “I don’t have any reason to believe it’s in jeopardy” at this point.