Voters in Berea will have an opportunity Sept. 29 to determine whether they want alcohol sold by the drink in certain restaurants.
That's when a special election is scheduled to decide the issue. A petition drive was successful in obtaining the 1,150 verified signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot, and Madison County Judge-Executive Reagan Taylor scheduled the Sept. 29 date.
If the ballot measure passes, Berea would not have bars and package stores, as neighboring Richmond does. Instead, it would only allow sales of alcohol by the glass in restaurants that seat at least 50 people and that derive at least 70 percent of gross receipts from the sale of food.
Berea Mayor Steve Connelly said he will campaign for passage of the ballot measure.
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"I think Berea has been missing an opportunity over the years by not being able to have our qualified restaurants sell alcoholic beverages with food," Connelly said. "This vote will give our citizens the opportunity to speak up on this issue."
Since October, alcohol has been sold by the drink at Boone Tavern, a 106-year-old restaurant owned by Berea College. Limited alcohol sales by the glass were approved in 2012 in the single voting precinct containing Boone Tavern, but Berea College didn't allow sales to start until last year. (Alcohol is prohibited on the college campus.) Otherwise, Berea is a dry community.
Two previous votes that would have allowed alcohol sales within the entire city limits of Berea were defeated in 2000 and 2007.
With the exception of Richmond, the county seat, Madison County is dry.
Last fall, another petition drive to have Berea go fully "wet" and allow bars and package sales failed to get the required number of signatures.