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Sumter County Council considers Sunday alcohol sales referendum

Question about sales at convenience and grocery stores could be added to ballot

BY SHELBIE GOULDING
shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 6/26/20

A referendum question may be added to voters' ballots in November asking whether grocery and convenience stores in Sumter County should be allowed to sell beer and wine on Sundays.

The request was brought before council on May 21 by the Greater …

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Sumter County Council considers Sunday alcohol sales referendum

Question about sales at convenience and grocery stores could be added to ballot

Posted

A referendum question may be added to voters' ballots in November asking whether grocery and convenience stores in Sumter County should be allowed to sell beer and wine on Sundays.

The request was brought before council on May 21 by the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, which led an effort to include on-premise Sunday alcohol sales within the City of Sumter in 2014.

The Chamber thinks the economic impact of bringing these sales to the city has been significant in terms of job creation, new economic development and additional tax revenue for our community, and it now asks that Sumter County Council allow the citizens of Sumter to make this decision as they did before in 2014.

If Sumter County Council decides to put the question on the ballot and voters pass the referendum, stores could apply for a seven-day license. Currently, no alcohol can be sold in stores on Sundays.

At a meeting Tuesday, open to the public via a virtual live stream, Councilman Eugene Baten said he has no problem with council putting this matter on the referendum because the citizens of Sumter County should have input on it.

Sumter County Attorney Johnathan Bryan said, by law, the only way this matter can be passed is by referendum, but it's the council's decision whether to put the referendum on the ballot.

Council approved the first reading of the ordinance with member Vivian Fleming-McGhaney voting against it. Ordinances in the county require three readings to pass for approval.

County approves joint commissions to meet in person

Two emergency ordinances were added to the agenda following what was discussed at Sumter City Council's biweekly meeting last Tuesday.

The city passed ordinances to continue holding meetings remotely and to allow boards and commissions to meet in person, if necessary.

With some boards and commissions being jointly run by the city and county, these ordinances were only brought before council to oppose because the city already passed its part.

Council member Artie Baker did oppose the emergency ordinances, saying that the city administrator shouldn't be the only one making the call on these emergency ordinances. He thinks the county administrator should help lead the initiative, too.

Bryan said if the council wishes to object to the emergency ordinances, this will end conjunction meetings between the county and city until mid-August.

Council member Jim McCain said it would be a bad decision to oppose because then the Sumter City-Planning Commission couldn't meet to pass city and county projects that require a public hearing.

Baker decided to not oppose the emergency ordinances, but he said he stands by his word, especially because the planning commission is a joint group between the city and county.

Little John Lane to transfer to adjoining property owners

The third reading of an ordinance to transfer a "paper street" to its adjoining property owners was unanimously passed by council.

Little John Lane was considered a "paper street," meaning it appeared on the map but was never developed. When that happens, a property owner or several property owners may want to take over a road.

A portion of Little John Lane was never paved by the developers or connected to a public road, so the transfer of this portion of Little John Lane would give the property owners access to a public road.