The city of Richmond has received almost 700 responses to a community survey which was available online Friday.
The survey was to gauge public response to allowing golf carts on city roads and packaged alcohol sales on Sunday.
While there are still several weeks for people to take the survey, City Manager Rob Minerich shared some early statistics on Monday.
According to the city manager, the number of responses were tallied Monday afternoon.
He added 12% of the responses to the survey were from business owners.
For the matter of allowing golf carts on city streets in Richmond, as of Monday, 51% are against the idea with 49% in favor.
Minerich said the numbers are closer than he thought they would be, with early opinions of people largely against the notion.
However, 63% of Richmond residents that have completed the survey thus far, said they would have no means to purchase a golf cart.
The other focus of the survey regarding Sunday packaged alcohol sales has a much larger margin in early numbers.
According to Minerich, 89% of survey-takers are for the sale of packaged goods on Sunday, which would fall in line with the other days of the week when it is permitted.
Eleven percent of survey takers said ‘no.’
Minerich was not able to give comments for either way people voted, but said comments would be prepared for the commission and submitted to public record closer to the final date the survey is available.
He encourages others who have not taken the survey to do so, in order for the city to have as much feedback as possible.
“I think surveys are a good idea for these more controversial issues to get the word of the people in order to help the commission make a decision,” he said. “The more input we can get, the better.”
Once the July 18 deadline has closed for submissions, the data will be finalized and discussed at the city’s July 20 workshop meeting. A vote could potentially be made on the city’s first in-person meeting in more than a year on July 27.
While it is impossible to know how the commissioners will vote when the day comes, some have voiced their opinions on the matter.
On the matter of golf carts, Commissioner Jim Newby said he could understand how it would certainly be good in some situations.
However, in a previous meeting, the idea of golf carts on roads was presented by a citizen who compared the situation to Naples, Florida.
As a former resident of Naples himself, Newby said this comparison was just not an equal playing field. According to Newby, Richmond and Naples are laid out entirely different.
Even with allowing golf cart use in certain areas, he added, the city could run into trouble if people did venture outside of the streets pre-approved by the commission.
As far as alcohol sales on Sunday, Newby said it was a touchy situation.
“It is and it always has been,” he said. “We are in the Bible-belt, but times have changed.”
He said things can become dicey within the fine print of whether beer or liquor could be sold, if it is packaged or not, if it is a bar or a restaurant with food.
Newby said he is all for all-or-nothing.
“The people who want to drink, they will either get out to get it on Saturday, or they will drive to Lancaster or Lexington,” he said.
Commissioner Ed McDaniel said he thinks Sunday sales are a good idea for the city, and long overdue.
“I have been doing my research on this subject since the survey was introduced and found a study of 39,000 alcohol-related traffic accidents in Kentucky and concluded that residents of dry counties are more likely to be involved in such crashes, possibly because they have to drive farther from their homes to consume alcohol, thus increasing impaired driving exposure,” McDaniel said.
This information can be found on Alcohol Laws of Kentucky.
“In a time in our lives where we are all recovering from the financial effects of COVID-19, I feel we need to open all avenues available to help our businesses in our community, from our grocery stores and gas stations,” he added.
Golf carts, he said, were okay in his opinion if utilized in certain developments. He felt there is a high safety risk when you put a cart on the street.
“If an individual or a family were to be ran over by a vehicle and hurt, I would feel extremely bad had I voted yes,” he said. “If the majority of the community is for it then we would have to sit down and go over some proper guidelines so that they could be utilized safely."
The debate of allowing Sunday sales in Richmond and Madison County is a hot-button topic that has been long-standing.
Even during the last election cycle, Commissioner Mike Brewer faced a question about alcohol sales at a commissioner forum held in 2020.
At the time, he said the city needed to think of new ways to generate income and revenue, and that could include less restrictions on alcohol sales.
“We have got to start thinking of things outside of the box to increase revenue, and tax dollars,” he said previously. "I have dealt with, over the years, many times, with alcohol issues in Richmond so I am well aware of the plight it plays on people and how you are perceived by supporting that, but it is just about income now. It is what we have to do to make our places survive."
Commissioner Krystin Arnold was contacted by The Register, but did not respond by the time of publication.
The final day for people to submit their survey answers is July 18. To take the survey visit, https://forms.gle/qk32Ni6AVCiHYbxi8.