In a three-to-two split decision, the Harrogate Board of Mayor and Alderman passed the second reading of an ordinance addressing the issue of Sunday beer sales.
There was no discussion from the aldermen on the issue with votes being evenly split. Each alderperson voted as they said they would at last week’s work session.
At the work session, Alderman Gary Burchett stated his personal convictions about the issue would prevent him from voting in favor of the ordinance. Alderperson Sylvia Donahue agreed with Burchett and stated her religious convictions would prevent her from voting in favor of the issue.
Aldermen Lieven Cox and Allen Hurst both said they were likely to vote in favor of the ordinance. Cox said he would like to see the ordinance amended to barring the sale of beer after midnight.
The second reading of the ordinance was amended to allow beer sales on Sunday from the hours of 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and weekdays from 8 a.m. until midnight.
Harrogate Mayor Linda Fultz was the deciding vote on the ordinance, after admittedly being on the fence about the issue at the work session.
Fultz spoke to the aldermen and those in attendance about the research she did when making her decision. She said she called the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office to see if there had been an increase in the amount of alcohol related crimes — such as public intoxication and driving under the influence — after Tazewell and Cumberland Gap adopted similar ordinances that allowed the sale of beer on Sundays.
Fultz said she was told there was no increase in alcohol related crimes after the passage of similar ordinances in the neighboring cities. It was brought to her attention, if there was an issue after the ordinance passed, the board could always take action by revisiting the status of beer permits to ensure businesses were abiding by the law.
The Oasis is currently the only establishment within the city limits that sells beer. Oasis manager Ashley Guy attended the meeting.
“We are happy to be back on open on Sundays,” said Guy. “We like to think of Sundays as family days and we invite everyone out to eat, shoot a game of pool or play cornhole.”
Oasis will be closed this Sunday for remodeling so the first Sunday they will be serving beer will be Aug. 2.
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091 or on Twitter @ReinaDailyNews.