Richmond City Commission discussed a proposed ordinance Tuesday that would allow bars to remain open until 1 a.m. as opposed to midnight.

Mayor Connie Lawson spoke in favor of extended hours, but wants to do more research before the item becomes an official ordinance.

“When Lexington bars started staying open until 3 a.m., it killed our businesses here,” Lawson said. “The reason being that they leave here and go to Lexington. That seems to be the greatest concern. I hope we can all do a lot of homework on this.”

Commissioner Robert Blythe voiced his problems with agreeing to later hours.

“I’m trying not to moralize this,” he said. “But, I want someone to demonstrate to me how keeping the bars open later will decrease the amount of drunk driving. I want to see statistical evidence. I have to ask myself, is this going to be a positive attribution to the character of our community?”

David Hernandez, a Richmond bar owner, presented the commission with research that supports the theory that extended bar hours will decrease the amount of drunk driving and crime.

“It would also increase tax revenue and have a positive economical impact for the city,” he said. “There are some statistics that show that the incidents of DUI and fatalities related to drinking decreases as the hours for bars are lengthened.”

Even if bar hours are extended, that may not be the same for liquor stores, said Commissioner Mike Brewer.

“I talked to some of the liquor store owners today and they said they’re going to close at midnight regardless,” he said.

Bars hours already are extended on the days of the Eastern Kentucky University football team’s home games.

The commission also entertained the idea of regulating advertising for alcoholic beverages.

The proposed ordinance would not allow any business with a license to sell liquor to advertise on the outside of their business.

“The use of banners, handbills and other similar types of advertising of alcoholic beverages contributes to the unsightly appearance of the city,” the proposed ordinance states.

However, it would not stop licensees from advertising in the newspaper, magazines, radio or television.

At this time, the commission is not sure if either the item of extended bar hours or advertising regulations will be made into an official ordinance.

In other business:

• Richmond's development ordinance has been revised in several areas, with one of the biggest changes being in the description of PUD (Planned Unit Development).

“I've been having meetings on this since October,” said Mike Roberts, director of Richmond Planning and Zoning.

The section referring to PUD went from being one paragraph to 16 pages. The revised edition states that a PUD zone district is to encourage and allow more creative and imaginative design of land developments than is possible under other district zoning regulations. The entire revised development ordinance will soon be on the city's Web site, www.richmond.ky.us, but no specific date was given.

The development ordinance was written one year ago and contained many inaccuracies and mistakes, Roberts said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission have all agreed to the revised edition, he said.

• The commission passed the final reading of an ordinance that would lift the moratorium of multi-family housing developments.

A moratorium on multi-family housing was placed in 1996 because of the large imbalance between the amount of single-family and multi-family housing.

• The commission passed the first reading of an ordinance that would better regulate the sale, possession and use of fireworks. The ordinance states that the city fire chief may grant permits for supervised public displays of fireworks by fair associations, amusement parks and other organizations or groups of individuals.

Some firework vendors have been selling illegal fireworks in Kentucky, but were making customers sign a waiver that they would take them out of state.

This ordinance would close that loophole, City Manager David Evans said.

• A franchise agreement between the city and BFI/Allied Waste was rescended because of the company’s failure to work with the city, Evans said. “I’ve met with them about this several times and they’re stubborn to work with,” he said.

The company is depending on the city to collect their garbage pick-up fees for them and now they will have to deal with the homeowners themselves, Evans said.

• The commission passed an ordinance to change the zoning classification of property owned by Tom Harper on Barnes Mill Road from agriculture to residential.

• The commission agreed to purchase handguns for off-duty police officers, costing $409 each.

• Richmond Firefighter Darrell Huguely and Charles Hay, a member of the Architectural Review Board, resigned from their positions with the city.

• The commission acknowledged the retirement of Police Sgt. Ray Craft.

• Teresa Botts and William Reed were appointed to the Richmond Human Rights Commission.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

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