Residents petition for special election to expand liquor sales

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Officials say liquor stores could expand tourism, local revenue

By Tracy Harris

Alcohol sales in La Grange could expand, depending on the outcome of a special election this summer.

More than 400 people signed a petition requesting the special election, which will allow La Grange voters to decide if they want to make the city “wet.”

The special election is set for July 24.

The proposed change would make La Grange a wet city, but as a fourth-class city, that comes with provisions, according to according to Kim Buckler, executive director of the Oldham County Tourism Commission. 

She added that sales of liquor by the drink in restaurants would not change.

Under current regulations throughout Oldham County, restaurants must have at least 100 seats and make 70 percent of sales from food to sell liquor.

But, beer-only and wine-only permits would be available to restaurants with different restrictions than the current policy.

Beer could be served in restaurants of any size without food-to-liquor requirements. Another permit would allow restaurants with at least 50 seats to serve wine, and require restaurants to make half their sales from food.

The change would also allow up to three package liquor stores to open in La Grange, subject to state alcohol beverage control approval.

Buckler said other attractions could open because of the change, like tasting rooms for local wineries.

“We’re doing it for tourism,” she said. “It’ll make it nicer for the people who come here.”

Buckler said she focused on La Grange because it is where all the hotels are and because of the fourth-class city provisions that allow more control over alcohol sales.

La Grange Mayor Bill Lammlein said the built-in protections make the change feasible. 

But, he said he knows there will always be some people against any liquor sales in the county. 

Crestwood resident Patti Stephens is concerned. 

She worries that making La Grange a wet city will be the first step, leading to bars, increased crime and unsafe situations.

“People move to Oldham County to put their children in good schools and raise their children in a safe place,” she said.

The proposed changes would not permit bars.

Lammlein believes more people would use La Grange as their one-stop-shop if the city had package liquor stores. 

That goes for Henry and Trimble residents, too, he said. Now, those people stop in Jefferson County to pick up beer and wine — and while they’re there, they do their grocery and other shopping, too.

“I’m looking at it as an economic boost for our city,” he said.