With a crowd of more than 75 people looking on, the Mayfield City Council approved on first reading Monday an ordinance enabling businesses to offer alcohol.
The quota retail drink license ordinance passed 8-1. It will have its second and final reading and vote Sept. 9 and then be approved or vetoed by the mayor within 10 days.
If passed, the license would cost $570 per year, and applicants would still have to obtain approval from an alcoholic beverage administrator and conditional use and occupancy permits.
The ordinance also would allow all Mayfield businesses to sell alcohol beginning at noon on Sunday instead of 1 p.m. and would extend the time required to complete server training from 30 days to 90 days.
It also opens the way for bars to locate within Mayfield, but the small business owners who asked the city to consider it are not looking to bring in bars. Those who spoke against it did so from a religious and moral perspective, saying they also were concerned about the effect of more readily available alcohol on youth, drunk driving, crime and recovering alcoholics. Six people spoke in favor of the ordinance. Jana Duffy, owner of clothing boutique Anaj, said she asked for the city to consider the ordinance because of an event she held at her store in February in which the store stayed open late, participants dressed up to shop, and the store served food and wine. Although the event was a huge success, she said half her profit went to the only caterer in Graves County who has a license to serve alcohol.
Duffy said she had also spoken to a day spa owner who lost $800 from a bridal party when told they could not bring in champagne for mimosas.
"They took their business where it was allowed," Duffy said. "There is money to be made here in Mayfield. Why are we sending them to Paducah when they should be staying here?"
Mayor Kathy O'Nan said previously that besides Anaj, the businesses asking for the ordinance were an art gallery, nail salon and spa.
Tom Curtsinger, owner of Fancy Farm Winery, said just because a business serves alcohol, it does not have to be a bad neighbor.
"We've established ourselves as a good neighbor," he said. "We've established ourselves as a small business."
Although wineries, breweries and distilleries are covered by a different license, the ordinance as written would prevent Curtsinger or other winery owners from opening an off-site location in Mayfield to offer wine tastings.
Denise Thompson, president of the Mayfield/Graves County Chamber of Commerce, said the inability to obtain a license has cost the chamber money. She gave a recent example of the Farm to Table Dinner. Although the chamber already had a caterer, it had to hire a second one to offer a cash bar, and that caterer had to provide a 70/30 food-to-alcohol ratio to follow the law.
The food provided by the other caterer didn't count, so the chamber paid roughly $6 per dessert per person instead of about $1 per dessert through the other caterer just to be able to offer participants the cash bar.
"But that's a really expensive way to have a cash bar," Thompson said.
Jodie Hansen, Graves County Economic Development vice president for community and business development and president of the tourism board, said not having the license availability has meant lost opportunities for businesses in Mayfield.
Tom Waldrop of Trifecta Real Estate said his fear was when the council previously voted to do away with the license and the possibility of bars in January 2018 that it lost some flexibility with businesses that is needed. Waldrop said he was among those who helped bring Springhill Suites to Murray, and that the owner also owns the Holiday Inn next door and a Hampton Inn in Union City, Tennessee. Such hotels can't meet the 70/30 ratio because they give away breakfast for free and that doesn't count, he said, but they might want to offer sandwiches or snacks and alcohol by the drink at night.
"We've taken away the business flexibility if they want to provide that," he said.
Todd Blume, a Mayfield native and founder of Paducah Beer Werks in Paducah, said he hopes the council can look at the former Mayfield tavern MT Winchester as a cautionary tale and not see bars and taverns as the only way a quota retail drink license holder should look in Mayfield.
"I hope you will change this ordinance and create some new businesses and help Mayfield grow," he said.
Four people asked the council not to permit the licenses. Clint Reed, youth pastor at Chief Cornerstone Baptist Church east of Mayfield, said that in 2008 the church van he was driving back from Bible school was hit head-on by a drunk driver.
"I would ask you to stand strong," he said in not giving in to pressure to allow the licenses.
Bobby Knight, a worship minister at Chief Cornerstone, gave several statistics about drunken driving and addiction before saying, "Don't turn this city and this county into a statistic."
Blake Kendall, owner of A&B Barbecue in Mayfield, said the ordinance would make it more difficult for recovering alcoholics. He added that several of the people who attended in the standing room-only crowd had come to support those speaking against the ordinance, even though most did not sign up to speak.
"You do not have to have alcohol to have a prosperous business," he said.
Emily Easley said she came to support Kendall and others speaking against the ordinance. Although she was sympathetic to the needs of small business owners, she said, "We must acknowledge opening the door for them opens up the doors for others in the future … including bars."
She said she was concerned about the heartaches, broken families and addiction caused by alcohol.
"I just truly ask you to consider not only what our present concerns are but also the long-term effects," she said.
Some city council members had questions before voting. Councilwoman Jana Adams asked Duffy and Thompson about the costs associated with the city not allowing the licenses and whether the cost of the quota retail drink license would fit their needs better.
"I don't think we're opening the door to have a bar on every corner," Adams said. "To me, it's the small businesses that have asked for this."
Councilman Nate Cox commented that in the 24 months during which businesses could have applied for the license, MT Winchester was the only one to do so, meaning he does not believe Mayfield would be overrun with bars by passing the ordinance.
Councilman Chuck Whitnell said he believes the potential detriment outweighed any potential benefit. "My only concern is if we open this up to the small amount of people that we're going to open it for the things these people are concerned about," he said.
Councilman Barry McDonald said he didn't think the council should have ever repealed the ordinance allowing the licenses in the first place.
"I think we need to let it work and let it alone," he said.
Councilman Johnny Jackson asked both Police Chief Nathan Kent and Fire Chief Jeremy Creason whether they anticipated allowing businesses to have the licenses would cause any problems.
"We deal with the crimes of alcohol intoxication and DUI each day, so I don't think this would have an effect on how we go about patrolling the city," Kent said.
Creason said from an emergency medical response perspective, the city would continue to handle alcohol-related problems regardless of whether the ordinance passes. From a codes perspective, he pointed out that businesses interested in obtaining a license still had several requirements they must meet.
For example, state requirements include that those serving alcohol must have cameras on their doors. Someone who wanted to open a beer garden would have to have a fence around it, he said. City clerk Tamie Johnson, as the city's alcoholic beverage control officer, could refuse any application that did not meet standards the city set and that she could consider whether such as a license was appropriate for the neighborhood, had public support or even if the business had enough parking spaces.
"These are things we have in place that could regulate what kind of businesses come in," he said.
In the end, the eight votes for the ordinance were from Council members Brad Rodgers, Carol Todd, Phil Myers, Adams, Jackson, McDonald and Cox. Whitnell cast the only no vote. Councilman Derrick Parrott was absent.
In other business, the council:
• Passed a resolution donating property at 418, 422 and 424 Water Street to Mayfield Neighborhood Development LLC for the possible development of housing.
Andrew Ellison has applied for a grant through CFSB, where he works, that would provide help to develop housing. His grant application scores higher if he uses donated land in an area designated as blighted, Creason said.
"He's looking for maybe three to four units on those properties but with the grant he's saying he could be looking at 30 to 40 units within the next five to 10 years," Creason said.
Cox noted that Ellison has also said he would be willing to talk to any other interested developers about the grant program.
Creason said no houses remain on the properties and that they have been on the city's mowing list for years.
"This is a good thing all the way around," O'Nan said.
• Passed a resolution approving the mayor to seek demolition and replacement bids for the public works building at 1101 Old Pryorsburg Rd.
Public works director Russ Brower said the cost of replacing the roof would be nearly that of replacing the entire building with a steel frame building and that a portion of the old building has some issues with one wall. He expected the shop portion of the building to remain, but the office space to be replaced.
• Passed on first reading an ordinance adopting the state's building permit fee schedule.