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Haywood residents to vote on countywide alcohol

haywoodHaywood County voters will be asked to weigh in during the general election on whether businesses outside town limits should be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages.

“I’ve had some requests by persons who own convenience stores or restaurants outside the city limits who out of economic fairness want to know why they can’t sell alcohol,” County Manager Ira Dove told commissioners on Monday. 

While some people feel like it could help economic development in the county, while others feel expanding alcohol sales could result in an increase in alcohol-related incidents. 

“Regardless of what side of the issue you fall on, this is putting it to the citizens of Haywood County so they can decide what they want,” Dove continued.

Dove said 1952 was the last time the countywide alcohol issue was voted on by Haywood County residents. Beer and wines sales are allowed only in the town limits of Canton, Maggie Valley and Waynesville. Clyde is a dry town with no alcohol sales allowed. The referendum pertains only to beer and wine sales because liquor can be sold only at the state-regulated ABC stores. 

Dove said the referendum would let residents decide whether restaurants, convenient stores and hotels outside city limits should be able to sell beer and wine with the appropriate permits.

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Voters will say “yay” or “nay” to the following options — allow the off-premise sale of beer; allow on-premise sales of beer at hotels and restaurants and off-premise sale by other permitted businesses; to allow only on and off-premise sales of wine and to allow off-premise sale only of wine. 

“I think this should be an easy decision for us to make. The other decisions we’ve been faced with in last month are more difficult because we had to make the decision but this one we can put in front of constituents and let them make the decision,” said Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick. 

Commissioners voted 3 to 1 in favor of passing the resolution allowing the alcohol referendum to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. The board excused Commissioner Michael Sorrells from voting on the issue since he owns a convenience store that could potentially benefit if such a referendum passed. Commissioner Kevin Ensley voted against the referendum because of his religious beliefs. 

“I can’t vote on this based on the convictions of my Christian faith — I’ll be voting against this now and in November,” he said.

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