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Public Speaks On Cold Beer, Sunday Sales

The public comment hearing on cold beer and Sunday beer sales in Oxford drew only a handful of local citizens to City Hall to speak pro or con on the issue
The public comment hearing on cold beer and Sunday beer sales in Oxford drew only a handful of local citizens to City Hall on Tuesday to speak pro or con on the issue. Photo By Jared Senseman

Public comment meeting draws little opposition to refrigerated beer sales or sale of beer on Sunday

Mayor Pat Patterson and the Oxford Board of Aldermen heard from the public on Tuesday evening about proposed ordinance changes to allow cold beer and Sunday sales off premise in the city for the first time since the early 1960s.

Oxford attorney Dee Hobbs, who represents both the Circle K and the Quik Stop clients petitioning the city for a change in the ordinance,  spoke to various issues being raised at a meeting in which only a handful of citizens spoke either pro or con.

“Beer has less alcohol than things already being sold cold in stores,” Hobbs told the board. “It is a little bit strange we don’t allow cold beer sales.”

Hobbs also noted that “ having them (students) going 70 miles on the highway to get cold beer” was a safety issue in and of itself that could be eliminated by legalizing such sales in Oxford.

He  also addressed the issue of small retailers who may not be set up to offer cold beer or else do not want to incur the expense.

“This (proposed ordinance change) is not a mandate for smaller stores. They do not have to sell it cold,” Hobbs said.

Also speaking on the pro side of the issue, Oxford restaurant owner John Currence noted that the city had already conducted its research as to whether Sunday sales would pose a danger to public safety.

“We have done a beta test by allowing alcohol sales (on-premise) on Sundays after football games,” Currence said.

The owner of City Grocery and several other Oxford restaurants said two years of such Sunday sales have resulted in no discernable change in behavior –– a fact corroborated by Oxford Police Chief Joey East, whose department scrutinized the public safety records of cities surrounding Oxford as to arrests for open container violations and other public safety issues related to cold beer and Sunday beer sales.

“From a safety standpoint, from the data I have gathered, there is nothing to say there is going to be a danger to the public,” East told the board.

Joey Vaughan, owner of Joe’s Craft Beer in Oxford, urged aldermen not to extend the effective date of any ordinance change beyond the traditional 30-day waiting period and also suggested that Sunday sales begin no later than 11 a.m.

“Delaying implementation beyond the 30-day waiting period will cause us to miss football season. Football weekends are by far our busiest weekends of the whole year.”

Only a handful of citizens spoke to the con side of cold beer and Sunday beer sales.

Anna Duncan, one of the owners of Habits Discount Beverage & Tobacco on University Avenue, focused her opposition comments on Sunday beer sales.

“It is a quaint little town,” Duncan said. “Cold beer is inevitable, but one day a week this town needs peace. I don’t think Sunday beer sales are a good idea.”

The board of aldermen will vote on the proposed ordinance changes at its next meeting on August 20. –– Michael Harrelson, editor, HottyToddy.com

Email Michael Harrelson at michael.harrelson@hottytoddy.com

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