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Shepherdstown working on Sunday alcohol sales ordinance

By Staff | May 9, 2016

While the passage of the “Brunch Bill” in the 2016 West Virginia legislative session will allow restaurants, wineries and distilleries to sell alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays, Shepherdstown may get a jump on Sunday sales due to its status as a home rule municipality.

The Brunch Bill allows county commissions to put the issue up for voter referendum, and in Jefferson County as a whole, the topic of alcohol sales beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays will be an item on the ballot for the general election in November.

Town mayor Jim Auxer, however, said Shepherdstown is not going to wait that long. A provision to allow restaurants to sell alcohol for on-site consumption beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays was included in Shepherdstown’s application to the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board. The application, approved April 4, also includes a stipulation that waives a state requirement that beer-selling establishments must be located 300 feet away from a church or school.

“We don’t have to do a referendum, just our regular ordinance process,” Auxer said. “We could have done this without the passage of the Brunch Bill. When you apply for Home Rule, they encourage you to do something outside the box.” Auxer said the town’s attorney is currently drafting an ordinance related to Sunday morning alcohol sales, and he said he is hoping to review the draft ordinance at the May 10 Shepherdstown Town Council meeting. Town ordinances require a first and second reading before adoption. While Christian Asam, owner of the Bavarian Inn, has been a vocal proponent of the Brunch Bill, Auxer said the establishment is not located within the town limits and therefore, will not be included in the ordinance.

“This will be very good for the businesses downtown and it will be very helpful to the restaurants. We want to move forward with this (ordinance) as soon as possible in time for the summer. It’d be great to have it by the time the Contemporary American Theater Festival starts,” Auxer said.

With the approval of Shepherdstown’s Municipal Home Rule application, the town joins Bolivar, Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, Martinsburg and Ranson as the Eastern Panhandle’s Home Rule municipalities.