Clark County

Winchester commission moves toward Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants

WINCHESTER — The Winchester Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that would allow Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants within city limits.

Restaurant patrons would be able to buy alcoholic drinks between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sundays. The city, as well as two county precincts, already permit alcohol sales on the other six days of the week.

The city ordinance, which does not affect package sales, is scheduled for first reading Aug. 20. The second reading and final passage would likely be Sept. 10.

The county will consider the matter separately.

Each of the city commissioners spoke in favor of the change.

Commissioner Kitty Strode said she believes it will help bring new restaurants to Winchester.

"It's a no-brainer," she said. "We need to move forward in this community. We need to attract new restaurants. This gives us one more tool."

She said Winchester restaurants are already at a competitive disadvantage because of the city's proximity to the Hamburg development in Lexington.

But several citizens who gathered outside after the commission's vote said they were disappointed, primarily because of their religious beliefs.

"Sunday's the Sabbath Day, and you need to keep it holy. ...They've gone against what the Bible tells us about this," said Don Stone. "I've seen a lot of good things, and a lot of bad things, and tonight sure was a bad thing."

J.R. Johnson said his youngest daughter was 24 years old when she was killed by a drunk driver.

"They had their mind made up before they come in here tonight," Johnson said. "If any of these people ever had that happen to them, they would feel a lot different."

Gardner Wagers, a retired attorney and former county judge-executive who has supported expanded alcohol sales, said in an interview that allowing alcohol sales at restaurants on Sundays will not change the problem of alcoholism.

Instead, he said, it is an economic development issue.

"The Sunday business, we're completely losing it," he said, adding that restaurant servers are excited about the change because it may mean more work hours and higher tips.

In April, Wagers organized a petition drive in support of Sunday alcohol sales.

The petition, signed by 17 local restaurateurs, was presented to a joint meeting of the Winchester City Commission and Clark County Fiscal Court.

About 90 people attended a public forum in July in which about 20 speakers addressed the issue's pros and cons.

Clark County Fiscal Court plans to hold a public forum on the topic at its Aug. 14 meeting.

The court will then decide whether to pursue Sunday sales for the two county precincts where alcohol is sold, Judge-Executive Henry Branham has said.