DANVILLE — Voters on Tuesday approved the expansion of alcohol sales in the city limits to include bars and liquor stores.
The vote was 2,508 to 1,911, according to the Boyle County Clerk's Office. Eleven of the 17 city precincts voted in favor of expanded sales.
Since March 2003, Danville has allowed alcohol by the drink in restaurants that have seating for at least 100 people. Tuesday's vote eliminates that requirement so that smaller restaurants might also serve alcohol.
Supporters of expanded sales say that they hope it will bring more bistro-type restaurants to downtown Danville and that additional taxes from alcohol sales might ease the loss of payroll taxes in the wake of manufacturing layoffs.
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Chris Hill, owner of a Chills Quick Stop convenience store on Lexington Avenue, said he looks forward to the day in a couple of months when he will be able to sell beer. He said Danville has lost a lot of money to Lancaster since that neighboring city voted to go "wet" in 2008 and offer retail package sales.
"You sit in Lancaster and every other car coming from the west is a Boyle County car," Hill said. "We're losing millions of dollars in revenue that is leaving here and going other places. Now we can keep it here."
But Kevin Hampton, an associate pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church, said he was disappointed by the vote. He and other opponents had argued that expanded sales had hidden social costs, such as alcoholism and reduced job productivity.
"Our message was crystal clear. Our message was no alcohol sales as far as package retail, no liquor stores and no bars," Hampton said. "Our ultimate objective was that and that alone."
Danville becomes the first city in Kentucky to go from limited restaurant sales to a fully wet community, according to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. It will be a couple of months before expanded sales begin.
The number of licenses issued for bars and liquor stores in a community is based on population. With about 15,000 residents, Danville will be eligible for six licenses for bars and six licenses for liquor stores.
An unlimited number of places, including convenience stores, could sell beer.
Junction City, Perryville and the unincorporated areas of Boyle County will still prohibit the sale of alcohol.