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Alcohol sales ordinance passed by town

By Staff | May 27, 2016

The Shepherdstown Town Council met in a special meeting last Thursday evening for the second reading of a proposed ordinance that will allow alcohol sales in food establishments beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings. Currently the law does not allow alcohol to be served before 1 p.m.

The passage of the “Brunch Bill” in the 2016 legislative session allows county commissions to put the issue up for a voter referendum; however, Shepherdstown did not have to wait. With the town’s recent acceptance as a home rule municipality, the town was able to develop the alcohol ordinance and enact it without taking it to their citizenry for a vote. Jefferson County, on the other hand, must seek a referendum on the issue and plans to have the question on the November general election ballot.

Mayor Jim Auxer said after the meeting, “Shepherdstown is happy and proud to be the only town in West Virginia where people can have an alcoholic beverage at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.”

Auxer said he hopes the council’s actions will be a boon to the eateries in town that serve alcohol and that it will also bring tourists in to not only the restaurants but the shops as well.

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.

Town ordinances require a first and second reading before adoption. The first reading was on May 10 at the regular council meeting. By holding a special meeting for the second reading, the council was able to enact immediately and on-site alcohol sales may begin Sunday, May 22.

Auxer said the town was pleased to be accepted as a home rule municipality-one of a few Class 4 towns accepted.

“We are happy to be first,”Auxer reiterated. “The county has to wait for a referendum in November. We were able to do it sooner so we did it sooner.”

The ordinance only applies to restaurants within town limits and does not apply to businesses that do not sell alcohol for on-site consumption. Liquor stores and other businesses that sell alcohol for off-premise consumption must still wait for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Auxer said he looks forward to Sunday to see how the new ordinance is received.

“I think it will be a novelty at first,” he said. “I’ll be interested to see what happens on the first Sunday.”