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Residents of Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove got a glimpse of what their cities might look like should voters choose yes next Tuesday in the wet-dry elections.
The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control held an informational forum Monday at the Historic State Theater, where it walked through the licensing process and limitations should the cities go wet.
Steve Humphress, general counsel for the state ABC, said Elizabethtown could receive up to 12 package liquor store licenses if voters choose to go wet, while Radcliff would receive approximately nine and Vine Grove two.
Humphress offered the quotas based on the cities’ populations, but he said it was nothing more than an approximation because the ABC board would have to make the final call.
Radcliff, the county’s only second-class city, also could receive up to eight liquor drink licenses, which would allow for bars and other venues where distilled spirits and wine can be consumed on the premises. Because of its second-class status, Radcliff would gain full access to all available alcohol licenses in the state, Humphress said.
Fourth-class cities Elizabethtown and Vine Grove would have to hold a separate election to gain liquor drink licenses. As an alternative, the cities could gain restaurant drink licenses for restaurants and hotels to relax some limitations. The restaurant drink license requires 50 percent of sales be derived from food and requires seating space for at least 100 patrons, which would relax Elizabethtown’s current restaurant limitation of 70 percent food sales. But Humphress said the city would have to enact an ordinance allowing the licenses.
Humphress also said Elizabethtown and Vine Grove would have access to restaurant wine by the drink licenses if residents vote yes, which would lower the requirement to 50 percent food sales and seating room for 50 people. The one caveat is the license only allows for the consumption of wine, he added.
All three cities would have access to unlimited retail beer licenses, which could be pursued by grocery or convenience stores as long as they have $5,000 worth of inventory in food, groceries and related goods, Humphress said.
Grocery stores only could be granted a packaged-liquor license if they provide a space with a separate entrance that could not be accessed through the store, he added.
Cities from first to fourth class have local ABC administrators, who have the authority to create licenses, charge fees and enforce ABC laws on a local level. Cities of the third and fourth class also have the ability to levy an additional rate to reimburse the costs of increased policing or administrative duties related to alcohol licensing, Humphress said. However, he added, local cities or ABC administrators do not have the right to modify license quotas.
ABC Commissioner Tony Dehner said the agency takes enforcement very seriously and has the policing powers of the Kentucky State Police, which it uses to take administrative action against those who violate state laws or abuse licenses. Those cases can lead to heavy fines or revocation of a license.
The issue of alcohol has grown divisive in recent weeks, but the forum remained civil. ABC officials reminded the crowd the session was purely informational and would not be used as a platform for either side.
“We’re totally neutral,” Dehner said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 765-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.