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Council approves vote on Sunday alcohol sales

An ordinance to schedule a referendum to be held during the November 6 General Election concerning the sales of Sunday alcohol permits within city limits was adopted.

The adoption was approved July 24 after a May 3 Special-call meeting of the Economic Development Commission. Members voted 4-1 to ask that council “take the necessary action in order to place a referendum vote approving or disapproving of the on-premise sales of alcohol on Sundays within the city limits of the City of Walterboro.”

The request continued, “This requires no position to be taken by Council, it is simply a response to the requests and complaints of businesses and citizens to be put to a vote of the citizens.” If approved, the sales would be limited to holders of liquor-by-the-drink licenses only, also known as on-site premise locations. The approval would give business owners the option of purchasing individual Sunday licenses $200, or an annual license for $3,000. The commission discussed the fact that other business stops along I-95 within our state can sell alcohol on Sundays and this affects Walterboro businesses in a negative manner because many motorists get back in their vehicles and keep driving once they discover alcohol is not sold here on Sunday.

“People stop here, realize that they can’t get a drink on Sunday, and then either go north and stop in St. George or go south and stop at the Yemassee exit,” said Linda Kelly, who manages the Microtel at the Highway 63 and I-95 interchange. “These people will never be back. This is costing us jobs in the community. If the sale of alcohol on Sundays was allowed here, we would sell more rooms, and our employees would get more hours and make more money.” Another business person attending the meeting seconded this sentiment.

In other business:

–Council delayed a second reading on an ordinance “to repeal chapter 21, zoning, of the 2003 Code of Ordinances of the City of Walterboro… as well as to repeal chapters 17 and 24, Flood Damage Control and Planning, of the 2010 Code of Ordinances of the City of Walterboro… and to replace said chapter 24 with a revised chapter 24, entitled “Planning” which contains the “City of Walterboro Unified Development Ordinance (UDO),” as well as to repeal other sections of the codes that conflict with the provisions the revised chapter 24.” Walterboro businessman Andy Ulmer told council he was worried the wording of the ordinance might adversely affect both him and other business owners in the downtown area. “I ask you to consider delaying the vote tonight, and give it some breathing room,” he said.

Council decided to delay action for no more than 30 days and to hold a workshop on the proposed UDO before it comes again before council at a meeting. All members voted in favor of the delay with the exception of Councilman Bobby Bonds. “I think we need to move forward. We’ve had this document for two or three months. If we need to make modifications, we can make them. I’m concerned about a delay,” he said.

–Council conveyed condolences to the Cone family after the recent passing of Mrs. Diane Daniels Cone, wife of former Walterboro Mayor William Harry Cone, Jr.

–After no comment was heard during a public hearing concerning a proposed ordinance to amend the City of Walterboro’s Code of Ordinances so as to strengthen and clarify the ordinance as related to noises, the ordinance was adopted.

During a discussion before adoption, Councilman Dwayne Buckner said he opposed the ordinance, calling it “too restrictive” and voicing that it may cause “too much government involvement in every-day lives.” Councilman Paul Siegel countered, however, that “This is an expansion of people’s rights.”

–First reading passed on the annexation of a land parcel on Mount Carmel Road between Maxwell Street and Forster Drive into the City of Walterboro.

–A request by Bonnie Tracey of Clarity Spa, LLC to use the Downtown Waterfall Plaza for a Susan G. Komen fundraising event on October 20 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Komen, who was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1943, contracted breast cancer at the age of 33 and died because of the disease three years later in 1986.

–Council went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter and negotiation pertaining to proposed contractual arrangements, but no action was taken.