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Danville to vote on expanding liquor sales

Danville voters will decide March 2 whether to expand alcohol sales within the city limits.

Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney scheduled the referendum Monday afternoon after receiving a petition from the Committee for Expanded Sales, a group that sought the election. Boyle County Clerk Trille Bottom said the question that will be put to voters in 16 city precincts is, "Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Danville, Ky.?"

The petition needed the signatures of 1,753 registered voters to put the issue on the ballot, and 1,861 were certified, Bottom said. Passage of the question would allow package sales.

In November 2002, Danville voters approved the sale of alcohol by the drink in restaurants with a minimum of 100 seats and in which 70 percent of gross receipts are from food sales. Liquor-by-the-drink sales began in March 2003.

Danville had been dry since 1945, except for one precinct that voted to allow wine sales at a bed-and-breakfast in 2001. The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in Junction City, Perryville and the unincorporated areas of Boyle County, although the sale of alcohol is permitted in the county at Old Bridge Golf Course.

If the ballot question passes, it would eliminate the 100-seat requirement for restaurants to serve alcohol, McKinney said. A task force of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership found that requirement to be "a major obstacle" for new businesses in the downtown Danville business district. For example, the task force found that there is only one vacant structure that provides enough space for 100 seats.

It is also "prohibitively expensive" to reconfigure and renovate any historic structure to do so, according to a May report published by the task force. Even if a restaurant has sufficient capital to renovate a downtown structure, that doesn't mean it would be an "economically viable business model." Most restaurants hope to start smaller and grow to that size, if possible, the task force found.

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