Cheers to Commissioners Ed McDaniel, Jim Newby and Mike Brewer!
They listened to their constituents and did something which will benefit our community economically for many years to come.
On Tuesday, the Richmond City Commission approved -- by the narrowest of margins -- an ordinance which will allow expanded alcohol sales on Sunday in the city.
Effective immediately, the sale of packaged alcohol will be allowed on Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m., and bars and restaurants, which have a current license, can serve spirits from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Mayor Robert Blythe and commissioner Krystin Arnold voted against the change.
The Richmond City Commission discussed a possible change to the ordinance in June during a work session, but took no direct action. They did, however, agree to send out a survey to local residents to judge their opinion on this and other topics.
The results were overwhelming.
In a 30-day period, city officials received 1,861 responses to the survey -- 89% favored allowing expanded alcohol sales on Sunday.
This is how government should work, at any, and all levels.
We applaud the participation of local community members in getting this ordinance passed.
If not for the hard work of Charley Hamilton, who led the change in the ordinance and spoke before the commission, and the numerous community members who took the time to fill out the survey -- the discussion of Sunday alcohol sales would likely have been pushed aside as it has numerous times in the past.
We hope the community will continue to voice their opinions on local policy and our local officials will continue to provide an easy way for citizens to do so.
Our elected officials asked for our opinion, took the response into consideration and acted.
It doesn't mean -- even with significant public input -- that everyone will still agree on everything.
After the meeting, Blythe said he certainly understood the impact changing the ordinance would have economically on Richmond.
Most of the counties surrounding Madison allow alcohol sales on Sunday, including Fayette. Local residents often travel to those nearby counties to purchase packaged spirits on the weekend, which takes a tremendous amount of tax revenue away from Richmond, Berea and the rest of Madison County.
Blythe acknowledged that.
His objection was not economic, but spiritual.
"From the standpoint of integrity, 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," said Blythe, who is a pastor.
We understand the mayor's judgement on this issue.
Arnold's opposition to the change came from a different perspective.
Restaurants in Richmond have been able to sell alcohol by the drink on Sunday for more than a decade.
She argued packaged sales at chain stores, like Kroger, Meijer, etc., would have a negative impact on local businesses, especially following the pandemic lockdown.
"Limiting alcohol sales to our eateries would have helped bolster their revenue recovery," Arnold said. "I am still hopeful our local restaurant businesses will thrive and continue to recover as we move forward."
We hope so, too.
It is our belief, though, this change in city ordinance is a great step forward -- symbolically and economically -- for our community.