When Adair County residents voted to allow alcohol sales, state law prohibited a community of this size from allowing establishments that sell alcohol by the drink unless they also sell food. In other words, restaurants could sell alcohol by the drink but “bars” were forbidden.
Changes in Kentucky law, which went into effect July 1, have now discarded the minimum population requirement and all cities and counties are treated the same.
A “quota retail drink license” is available unless a city or county changes its ordinance to prevent the issuance of the license. The Adair County Fiscal Court has changed its ordinance; the Columbia City Council has not.
Council member Pam Hoots asked city attorney Marshall Loy about the change in state law during Tuesday night’s regular council meeting.
“Basically, what it amounts to, there is the ability, if you do not have prohibition, to have bars,” Loy said.
The law apparently puts the burden on the local community to say no to bars (KRS 243.230), meaning a lack of action by local government would give the state authority to begin advertising that licensing requests would be accepted.
An Aug. 11 post on a Facebook page for the Kentucky ABC Administrators Association said a staff member with the licensing division had newspaper ads ready to publish Sept. 1 for communities that have not passed an ordinance prohibiting a quota drink license. They asked that communities let them know ASAP if they plan to pass an ordinance so they could save on publication costs.
Following Loy’s explanation of the change in law, council members began speaking over one another as they tried to understand its consequences. Finally, Hoots asked that the issue be added to an agenda of an upcoming special called meeting. The council expects to hold two special called meetings prior to Sept. 15 to set tax rates.
The fiscal court has changed its ordinance and published a legal notice stating that the amendment would “remove quota retail drink fee and added language to prohibit stand-alone bars.”
As it stands now, bars would not be allowed in the county but an application process could soon be underway in the city.
By Sharon Burton