Archive for Wednesday, November 8, 2006

McLouth rejects ban on liquor

November 8, 2006

In McLouth, the big issue on the ballot was whether the city would allow the sale of retail packaged liquor.

And the voters have spoken clearly.

Charles Karmann, owner of Karmann's Liquor, was happy with the election results, which carried in his favor, 276 to 100.

"I'm happy with it," Karmann said. "I think now everyone will see that the town's ready to have a store."

Three months ago, Karmann opened his store in McLouth's downtown business district. It was the city's first package liquor store in at least 75 years.

Since Prohibition, McLouth had been wet. However, city ordinances required a liquor store be at least 1,000 feet from a school, church or hospital.

That zoning requirement essentially prevented anyone from opening a liquor store, because churches are in several areas of the town.

Karmann had been interested in opening a liquor store. The opportunity arose earlier this year when the city council failed to vote the city dry.

This followed Kansas Senate Bill 298, which went into effect last November. The amendment to the state's liquor law was a result of an effort to establish uniform liquor laws throughout Kansas.

When the law went into effect, all Kansas cities became classified as wet, with the stipulation that package liquor stores be at least 200 feet from schools and churches. Cities had three months to vote their cities dry. So in February, when the city of McLouth had not taken that action, the city remained wet and the zoning requirement shrunk from a 1,000-foot distance from a church or school to 200 feet.

Within days after Karmann opened his store, McLouth residents began carrying petitions to vote the city dry.

After the petition was filed, Karmann filed suit, saying the wording of the petition was confusing. He also argued the petition was submitted outside of the 40- to 60-day window that's required by law.

In an Oct. 12 hearing in Jefferson County District Court, Judge Gary Nafziger upheld the legality of the petition.

Nafziger noted that no matter which way the election went, the issue -- of whether the city would be wet or dry -- could be petitioned and brought to a vote again.

However, after seeing Tuesday's election results, Karmann was doubtful the law would be challenged.

"I think it would be kind of pointless for it to come up again," Karmann said. "We beat them two-to-one."

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