Sunday alcohol sales was just one of the issues discussed by the citizens of Lake Park during Tuesday’s town hall meeting.
The Lake Park City Council held the meeting to get the citizens input on issues ranging from flood insurance to a new community center.
No decisions regarding any of the issues discussed were made by council at Tuesday’s meeting.
Dr. Walter K. Sandlin, mayor, opened the floor for the discussion of Sunday alcohol sales.
Resident Danny Beasley said he did not care one way or the other about the sale of alcohol on Sunday but that the citizens should have a right to vote on the issue through a referendum. “It should not be determined by council,” Beasley said.
Sandlin said it was his understanding that council would have to vote to place the issue on the November ballot as a referendum.
Jimmy Hiers, husband of Melanie Hiers who owns Da Rajun Cajun Bar and Grill, got up to speak on the restaurant and bar’s behalf.
Melanie Hiers has requested the city consider Sunday alcohol sales as an economic benefit to not only her establishment but to the city as well.
“We don’t look at it as a religious question but simply as a business decision,” Jimmy Hiers said. He urged the council to put the issue before the citizens and let them vote on it.
The business is trying to survive in serious economic times, Hiers said.
If it could be open seven days a week, Da Rajun Cajun could better compete with the establishments that operate outside the city limits that are open seven days a week, he said.
Another man, who said he didn’t live within the city limits, said he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Sunday alcohol sales so the business can be competitive in this economy.
Resident Ken Sherrill asked what it would cost the city to put the referendum on the ballot.
The city attorney, Rob Plumb, said if the referendum was approved by council it would be placed on the same ballot as the general election so there would be no separate cost. The city would have to publish notices of the referendum’s placement on the ballot, he said.
Resident Mimi Wetherington asked if the city received any tax from the sale of alcohol.
Councilman Jeff Spradley said that there is tax on liquor, a portion of which is remitted back to the municipality. There is also a yearly liquor license fee, in the amount of $2,850 that comes back to the city, he said.
Resident Charles Rhodes asked if an establishment sold alcohol on Sunday, if they had to have a certain percentage of revenue in food sales.
Spradley said to his knowledge an establishment that sells spirits on Sunday had to have 50 percent of their annual revenue generated by food sales.
Another man said that while he wasn’t a big drinker, he was a small business owner and that the establishment should be given a chance to thrive.
Bob Tebedo who manages the Da Rajun Cajun with his wife Denise, said that there is a possibility that if the business doesn’t get Sunday alcohol sales, it will have to close its doors.
If it closes its doors, Tebedo said, the City of Lake Park loses out on the fees the business pays.
Resident Steve Shot said he has lived in Lake Park for two years. In those two years he has steadily seen city services diminish.
Keeping a business open in Lake Park will provide added funds that may help get some of those services back, he said.
Ken Sherrill warned that if Sunday alcohol sales were passed that the city could be opening its doors to other businesses that would come in to sell alcohol on Sundays.
“We’ve got to think if we want Lake Park to be another Remerton,” he said.
Sherrill said if it was approved, the business might offer to have a buffet on Sunday and offer a discount to those that bring their church bulletins in.
Another issue that was addressed also centered around Da Rajun Cajun. A wrestling promoter based out of Valdosta has requested to use the barn
adjoining Da Rajun Cajun to hold wrestling exhibitions.
The council requested that the barn be certified for occupancy and that the fire chief come out and view the structure before approving it.