Vote on ordinance amendment to allow Sunday package alcohol sales on agenda for Tuesday Commission meeting

Published 11:30 am Monday, September 18, 2023

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Following the most recent Winchester City Commission meeting, it might have appeared that any potential ordinance amendment allowing package alcohol sales on Sundays from 1-8 p.m. was at a dead end; however, new life has come to the subject.

During the upcoming 5:30 p.m. City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19., the first reading of an amendment to the ordinance and a vote will occur.

“As of right now, you can’t sell package alcohol on Sundays,” said Winchester City Clerk Joy Curtis. “Depending on how they vote, then it will either go to a second reading or [be] shut down.”

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During the most City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5, a discussion occurred concerning the potential amendment to the city’s code or ordinances. At the meeting, a vote was taken about implementing the amendment, and it failed to pass 3-2, with Commissioners Hannah Toole and Kitty Strode in favor but Commissioners Shannon Cox, Kenny Book, and Mayor JoEllen Reed against the measure.

Curtis said that the vote went against procedure, which is why it is on the agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting.

“I put it on [the agenda] for discussion, and the Commission voted on it, which should not have happened procedurally,” she added.

Toole echoed much of what Curtis said.

“Essentially, within the same meeting, [my understanding is] you can not bring an item up, discuss it, and then vote on it all [on] the same day,” Toole said.

There have been several changes to local ordinances governing alcohol sales in Winchester over the past year.

Historically, in Oct. 2022, a previously established section of the Winchester Code of Ordinances was amended to allow alcohol sales by the drink from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Beforehand, sales hours for the drink existed from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

However, this did not impact package alcohol sales.

Toole, elected in November 2022, is the primary advocate for the amendment allowing package alcohol sales from 1-8 p.m. on Sundays.

“This issue is important to me simply [because] I feel as an elected official, it is my duty to represent all of the people in the community, and that includes people who have chosen to come to Winchester and invest their time and money and effort into owning and operating a business in our town,” Toole said. “Even more so from that point, we’re no longer competitive [with] the communities surrounding us. You can travel about twenty minutes in any direction…and you will be able to purchase alcohol. We need to be competitive with those markets.”

Toole also listed other potential impacts, including that – with New Year’s Eve falling on Sunday in 2023 – liquor stores could be impacted on what is sometimes considered the busiest day of the year for alcohol sales.

While restaurants have their sales, package sales could most impact grocery stores, convenience stores and other similar locations.