Despite seeming to have a least a little support by the majority of council members present, a motion to allow Sunday alcohol sales in the city of Providence failed for the second meeting in-a-row as it died on the floor from a lack of support in front of a packed council chamber.
Providence councilman Mark Turner made the motion on Monday night, renewing a motion that he had made at a January meeting of the council. In January, councilman Keith Farrell had seconded the motion, but nobody on the council would back Turner on Monday night, despite voicing some support for the possibility of Sunday sales.
His motion was to allow restaurant only sales on Sunday between the hours of two and ten.
Turner told the council that he did not personally drink, but he had been approached by a number of people who would like the city to reconsider its December decision to ban Sunday sales.
“There are some businesses interested in investing here,” Turner said. “I told them I would present it to the council.”
He added that despite their own personal feelings on the issue, he believed it was every council member’s duty to address the concerns of the citizens.
Once again council member Chip Palmer stood in opposition.
“I know it sounds as though the original ordinance is for the comfort of church goers,” he said. “I have a big concern that our police have not had a chance to digest our ordinance and prepare for the problems that alcohol sales will bring.”
Palmer listed a number of alcohol related health concerns from the World Health Organization, as well as some criminal statistics from a study.
“The council is responsible not just for the profit of businesses, its for the safety of our community,” he said. “I’d like to know that at least on that one day we can give pause to the thing that causes crime and alcohol abuse.”
Councilman Keith Farrell voiced a similar opinion, stating that since the last meeting he had heard from a number of citizens, and all of them were opposed to the Sunday sale of alcohol in Providence.
Council member Shannon Layton suggested that the city could provide a petition at the city building to allow citizens to vote whether or not they would like to see Sunday sales.
“We are the voice of the citizens,” she said. “Why not give them the chance to voice their opinions?”
Council member Myra Bell said she felt the citizens had already done so.
“When the citizens of Providence voted two-thirds in favor of alcohol sales, didn’t they voice their opinion?” she asked. “I go to church, but I don’t believe in policing people. I think they made their decision. They’ve already voted.”
Despite what seemed like support from Bell and Layton, neither was willing to second Turner’s motion, which failed from a lack of support. There was no further mention of giving citizens the chance to sign a petition.
Supporters and opponents of Sunday sales packed the council chambers, but none of them were allowed to take part in the council’s discussion of Sunday sales. They were forced to wait until the public appeals portion at the end of the meeting.
Speaking on behalf of Sunday sales was Adam Coffman, a local native and current resident who owns of a pharmacy in Hopkins County.
Coffman refuted the stats presented earlier by councilman Palmer, saying the studies were conducted in impoverished areas of Los Angelos, where the crime rate were already “spiralling out of control” before before liquor stores moved into those neighborhoods.
“What you see in Kentucky is that in every place that has gone wet, they aren’t repealing it,” he said. “You see places like Dawson going from six day sales to seven day sales. They’ve actually reported crime rates going down.”
Coffman said that for businesses such as restaurants, Sunday sales is a key.
“When are people spending money?” he asked. “On Saturday and Sunday. Those are the two biggest tourism days of the week.”
He added that he, like his father Phil Coffman and grandfather “Big Daddy” Coffman, wanted to be an entrepreneur in Providence, but his plan called for Sunday sales.
“By banning Sunday sales, you’ve closed the door,” he said. “Businesses aren’t looking to come into a town and kick the door open. That is why I think you aren’t hearing from them.”
The council also heard from a number of residents on the other side of the issue, including one who stated that Providence already had enough restaurants.
“We don’t need any restaurants in Providence,” Brenda McMican said. “We need a grocery store. We’ve got enough restaurants.”
Several religious leaders from the community also spoke, including Kenny Williams, Jimmy Sigler and Gene Cole. They all voiced their support for the council’s decision to do nothing on the issue.
“We don’t have restaurants coming into the community because we don’t have Sunday sales, its because the population will not support restaurants,” Cole said. “Your local mom and pops struggle, but they will attempt to make it.”
For the time being the city will remain with six day sales only.
Reach MATT HUGHES
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