By the time you read this piece, Greenville County Council will have killed in committee or allowed to continue through the approval process and a second reading a proposal to have a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales by the drink in bars and restaurants in the unincorporated areas of Greenville County.
The question is currently presented as one of economics, business profitability and customer service. In the past, it was a question of morals and religious belief. That was when the Ten Commandments and “Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy” was built into the fabric of the community. That was before the “Bible Belt” was invaded by men on bicycles wearing spandex from places where the Ten Commandments were banned.
The city of Greenville and the town of Mauldin already allow sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink on Sunday. Establishments in the Woodruff Road area of the County and their councilman Jim Burns are pressing for the referendum. Let the people decide. Put it on the ballot, is the battle cry.
Burns can probably get two Democrats and two Republicans on Council to join him in supporting the proposal. It will take 7 votes to move the proposal forward, and despite pressure from a professional promoter lobbying council members, the 7 votes may not materialize within the 12 member council that remains half conservative and half Progressives and RINO’s.
Adults may purchase beer and wine at every chain grocery store in the county. Motor vehicle drivers may purchase cold beer by the case or six-pack at all but a few gas stations in Greenville County six days a week, yet state law prohibits open containers in motor vehicles. Why would a driver insist on cold beer unless he or a passenger is going to drink it before it gets warm. Seems to me the intent is to drink and drive.
Despite the horrible cost of alcohol consumption in expended dollars and wasted lives, special interests continue to promote alcohol consumption by making it available even on Sunday in congested areas such as Woodruff Road, one of the last places one would like to meet an intoxicated individual operating a motor vehicle.
Currently, restaurants with bars located outside incorporated areas in Greenville County are prohibited from serving alcoholic beverages by the drink on Sunday. Some of these business owners and operators complain that their competition located in Greenville or Mauldin have an unfair advantage and pull away their Sunday customers who want to eat and drink alcoholic beverages with their Sunday breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Greenville County Council and the city of Greer are considering putting the question in a referendum on the ballot during the General Election to be held November 2, 2010. Simpsonville City Council has already voted to put the question on their ballot.
A referendum would allow voters to advise Greenville County Council whether or not alcohol should be legally served by the drink on Sunday in Greenville County. The decision by the electorate would not be binding.
County voters defeated such a referendum in 1999. Church groups were a major factor in that decision. It is not clear where church leaders stand today. The county demographics have changed drastically since that time and the advocates of alcohol sales by the drink on Sunday hope the pendulum is swinging in their direction.