Others ask to be involved in alcohol sales lawsuit

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By James Roberts

Three Campbellsville voters have asked to be part of a lawsuit challenging May's local option election.

Mike Kehoe, who helped organize the petition drive to get the alcohol issue before voters, Mike Phillips and Barry Cox have petitioned the Taylor Circuit Court to be made a party to the lawsuit. They've asked to join Taylor County Sheriff John Shipp, Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney, Allen Dudgeon and Phil Allan Bertram, all members of the Taylor County Board of Elections, and Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers as defendants.

Their attorney, Paul C. Harnice of Frankfort, filed the motion Thursday. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for July 22.

In May, Campbellsville voters approved a measure allowing restaurants in Campbellsville seating at least 50 people and deriving at least 70 percent of their revenue from food sales to serve alcohol by the drink. However, alcohol can only be served in conjunction with a meal.

The measure passed by 74 votes and effectively makes Campbellsville a moist city. A dry county that contains a city that allows some form of alcohol sales is considered moist.

Last month, Lebanon attorney Rob Spragens filed a petition contesting the local option election on behalf of Don and June Bishop, Russell Burris and Murey G. Finn.

The lawsuit seeks to void the results of the moist vote based on the wording of the question.

The petition and initial ballots did not include a phrase mandating that alcohol be served only in conjunction with a meal. Some residents voted on the incomplete question by absentee machine before it was corrected.

Because the question was not worded as specified by the statute, the lawsuit claims, the local option election shouldn't have proceeded.

Taylor County Attorney Craig Cox filed a response to the suit on July 3 in which he states that the Board and Rogers "deny that the language of the petition was legally insufficient to permit a local option election."

According to the response, there is only one Kentucky Revised Statute dealing with the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants seating at least 50 people and deriving 70 percent of revenue from food sales.

The response further states that the petition had "only one statute to which it could reasonably be applicable."

In the response, Cox asks that the election results be upheld and that the court rule that the defendants carried out their duties lawfully.

In the meantime, the Campbellsville City Council is moving forward with an ordinance regulating alcohol sales. A second reading of that ordinance is set for 7 tonight at the City Council meeting room above Campbellsville Police Department.

The ordinance sets a $1,000 license fee and an 8 percent regulatory fee and prohibits Sunday sales.

Upon approval of the second reading, the ordinance becomes law after publication in the Central Kentucky News-Journal.

Under state law, the City has until July 27 to approve the ordinance.

Ed Miladin, who will serve as the City's ABC officer, said it would be late November at the earliest before alcohol is served in Campbellsville restaurants. Applications for an alcohol license would first be approved locally before going to the state ABC. Applicants are subject to background and credit checks.

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.