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La Grange voters support expanded liquor sales 2-to-1

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By Tracy Harris

La Grange residents voted to make the city “wet” by a more than 2-to-1 margin Tuesday, with more than 1,000 voters casting ballots.

Of those voters, 751 voted for expanding alcohol sales in La Grange and 338 voted against.

It is unknown what percentage of registered voters participated, according to Oldham County Clerk Julie Barr, because many of the voting districts extend beyond city limits.

Barr said the only way to determine how many total registered voters are within La Grange city limits would be to manually tally them for each of the nine districts.

La Grange Mayor Bill Lammlein said he didn’t expect the vote to be so decisive.

“I’m happy that it passed,” he said, “but I’m surprised it passed by that big a margin.”

There is a 60-day moratorium on issuing alcohol licenses, giving city officials time to draft a revised ordinance and otherwise prepare for the changes.

After that period, La Grange business owners will have the option to apply for several new licenses — one allowing beer-only sales and one allowing wine-only sales.

The current liquor-by-the drink regulation will stay in effect as it is, Lammlein said, requiring restaurants to have at least 100 seats and make 70 percent of sales from food items in order to serve liquor.

However, the beer-only and wine-only licenses will be available to smaller restaurants.

Beer-only licenses have no seating or food-to-drink requirements. Wine-only licenses have a 50-seat requirement and 50 percent of sales must be from food.

There will also be a limited number of licenses available for package liquor stores — likely three, based on La Grange’s population.

Grocery and convenience stores will be permitted to sell beer if they have at least $5,000 in other inventory. 

Lammlein believes the expansion will help La Grange’s economy by both encouraging tourism and by keeping local money in the local economy.

La Grange resident Brian Crase said Lammlein is right.

“Walmart and Kroger in La Grange will start getting our grocery shopping,” he said.

Crase said he has shopped in Jefferson County since moving to La Grange eight years ago because he preferred to not make multiple trips.

But more than 300 residents voted against the measure, with many worried about increased drunken driving.

“More people will be killed or put in the hospital because of drunks,” said Jill Mac, who graduated from Oldham County High School this spring.

Mac said she is disappointed in her fellow citizens and doesn’t understand why they would want to “contaminate” La Grange with more alcohol.

Lammlein said he believes people will adapt to the change like they did when the city became moist in 2003.

“I think it’s going to be OK,” he said. “When we went moist, people were all doom and gloom but it’s been fine.”

 

Email us about this story at: tharris@oldhamera.com.