“There has always been a controversy on Sunday alcohol sales become some churches feel it is a morality issue,” Councilman Jimmy Hollander said. “Instead of the council voting on the issue, I feel it is best for the people to be able to vote.”
The council cannot approve Sunday alcohol sales; however it must approve to advertise and request a referendum on the matter, which the state legislature must approve before the residents could be allowed to vote. If the council did not vote to advertise the matter and request a referendum, the matter would not have a chance to be voted on.
Hollander said he discussed the issue with residents in his district.
“Some people have talked about opening businesses in Riverside should the vote pass,” he said. “Those people are waiting to see before committing.”
Hollander said some of the people he spoke with support seven-day alcohol sales and some don’t.
“I couldn’t truly vote on the issue to represent my district because there are so many different opinions on the issue,” he said. “The vote lets each person vote their conscience. The main thing is that some people were raised to think of drinking as getting drunk and disorderly. Others see it as people who drink responsibly and don’t disturb others. And some people will feel different than those two opinions. The vote will show what the preference is in the city and that will be the law.”
Councilman Frank Riddle said he feels the people ought to be able to decide whether to allow seven-day alcohol sales.
“The merchants are really pushing for it,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think the council should make the decision because it affects the merchants and citizens. I feel they should decide whether they want to allow it or not.”
Councilman Johnny Osborn said he would vote for Sunday alcohol sales because Riverside’s retail sales base is small and he believes any increase in sales tax would help.
“You can’t put a value on it until it happens,” he said. “It has the potential to increase sales for current businesses plus the possibility of attracting new ones.”
Mayor Rusty Jessup said the issue of Sunday alcohol sales has been talked about ever since Jefferson County got seven-day alcohol sales.
“Then Anniston got it last year, and the merchants think it’s time for a vote because they feel they are losing revenue to neighboring counties,” he said. “All the merchants are asking for is the state legislature to let them have a local referendum for Sunday alcohol sales. In order to help them, as a governing body, we have to publish a notice that we are asking the state legislature for a referendum, which we have done.”
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