Many in the city of Richmond have all been there. You’re grilling out on the porch with friends and family, or having a self-care night in search of a glass of wine.
You think of stopping to pick up drinks. Then that reminder pops in the back of your head. “It’s Sunday!”
As many city residents have done before, they hop into their car and ride outside of the city and county limits, and drive into Lexington to Exit 104 — the closest place they can legally buy alcohol on a Sunday.
All that has changed as of Tuesday evening.
Effective immediately, bars, restaurants, and any place where packaged alcohol is sold in the city of Richmond will be able to open for business on Sunday, as long as their license is current.
In a historical vote, an ordinance was narrowly approved that allows the sale of packaged alcohol on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bars and restaurants that have a license to serve will be able to do so from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
In addition, three license fees increased according to City Attorney Tyler Frazier.
The quota retail license, the quota retail drink license, and the supplemental bar licenses increased by $34.12.
Commissioners Mike Brewer, Jim Newby, and Ed McDaniel voted in favor of the ordinance in a 3 to 2 vote. Mayor Robert Blythe and Commissioner Krystin Arnold voted in dissent of the change.
Mayor Blythe gave an explanation before casting his ‘no’ vote, and said he understood the economic benefits of approving the measure, but sympathized with those who were against the measure due to their “integrity.”
“Simply from the standpoint of economic concern and fairness to those businesses in our community, who — although they hold licenses — do not have the opportunity to do what other businesses like them are doing,” Blythe began. “In the interest of fairness, I would certainly want to support the ‘yes’ vote. However, from the standpoint of integrity also, I will cast my vote as ‘no.’ Not because I am not in favor, but from the standpoint of integrity from the other position for which I speak.”
Commissioner Arnold stated she voted 'no' against the measure because the allowed Sunday packaged sales at other store chains could compete with local restaurant sales, which Arnold stated received more revenue on Sundays for their ability to sell alcohol.
"The restaurant industry suffered such substantial revenue losses during the pandemic and it will take a considerable amount of time to recover," Arnold told The Register. "As you know, some of them were unable to survive the economic impact and were forced to close their establishments. In efforts to see some of those revenues recovered, they were able to offer alcohol sales only at these local restaurants on Sundays. Through the pandemic, the large chain stores were able to remain open and operate whereas the restaurant establishments for quite sometime, were not. Limiting alcohol sales to our local eateries would have helped bolster their revenue recovery. I am still hopeful our local restaurant businesses will thrive and continue to recover as we move forward."
This measure came to fruition after Charley Hamilton, co-owner and founder of Dreaming Creek Brewery, approached the commission about Sunday packaged-sales at a previous meeting.
Hamilton argued it was unfair with current laws that although he held a license in the city to sell beer inside the store, they weren’t allowed to sell a to-go option. At the time, he said that was something that hurt them at the onset of the pandemic.
Hamilton told The Register while he was really thankful to those who voted in favor, the brewer was also disappointed in those who voted against the measure.
“I’m truly grateful to the commissioners that voted to support local businesses and went along with the wishes of the community’s survey results. I am however disappointed in the members that chose to vote against the community’s wishes and cast their votes based on personal beliefs rather than what their constituents asked them for as well as voting no with no discussion on why they were voting opposed,” Hamilton said. “At the end of the day, this is a great step for Richmond and is exactly the kind of change needed to move this city forward into the future.”
During the summer, following a 30-day survey period which ended on July 18, 1,861 responses had been submitted by the community regarding their opinion on Sunday alcohol sales.
At that time, City Manager Rob Minerich informed the Richmond City Commissioners that 89% of survey-takers voted in favor of Sunday sales, and 11% were against it.
He noted 19 pages of public comment were submitted — mostly in favor of the change.
“There are only a handful of people in these 19 pages of comments, a majority of the comments do support the change,” he shared previously.
• The city commissioners approved the second reading of Ordinance 21-23 which determines the Ad Valorem tax rate for the city for the 2021 year for all property in the city subject to taxation. This year, the city chose to select the compensating rate for the 2021 rates. The rates will be adjusted for 16.3 cents on each $100 of personal property, and 13.4 cents on each $100 worth of real property. The tax for motor vehicle properties will be 28.7 cents for each $100.
• The resignation of Jason Curry of the Richmond Police Department was approved.
• Stephen Madden’s resignation from the Richmond Police Department was approved.
• An order was approved for the disposal of two 2008 Ford Crown Victoria vehicles to the Madison County Detention Center, and one 2004 Chevrolet Suburban to the Waco Fire Department.
• Darrell Webb of the Richmond Fire Department was approved for retirement. He has served in the department since 2004.
• Bobby Lazenby will be transferred to systems administrator III from system support technician III within the information technology department. Pat Brown was approved from system support technician III to desktop support.
• A floor bid was approved for the Best Lovell Building to Saunders & Saunders LLC of Richmond in the amount of $12, 146.
• The commission approved an order which would allocate $50,000 of the American Rescue Plan funds awarded to the city go towards providing help to the homeless in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of Richmond Community Development Department will serve as project manager of the funding and collaborate with Room in the Inn program.
• An order was approved which will allow the city manager to allocate American Rescue Plan funds on behalf of the city to offer COVID-19 quarantine benefits to municipal employees. Up to 80 hours can be allocated for COVID-19 quarantine time per municipal employee of the ARPA funds awarded to the city. The City of Richmond Human Resource Department will serve as time manager on behalf of the allocation, and collaborate with the Finance Department for funding the program.
• Garrison Gray, Steve Moyer and Austin Willoughby were promoted with the fire department to firefighter II.
• A new job description was adopted for the city in the Parks and Recreation Department in administration. A building and maintenance superintendent position was created.
• John Kunce and Jeffery Cook were approved for hire as two parks maintenance laborers in the city’s parks department.
• Daniel Kirstein and Alfred Gray were promoted within the Richmond Police Department to sergeants.
• Hannah Horton and David Lawson II were approved for the Richmond Police Department.