The Bowling Green City Commission on Tuesday approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow the sale of alcohol from package stores on Sundays and the sale of alcohol during polling hours.
The ordinance passed 3-2, with Mayor Bruce Wilkerson and Commissioner Rick Williams voting no. It requires two readings.
The proposed ordinance would allow Sunday sales from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. for stores with a quota retail package sales license and from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following day for stores with a retail malt beverage package license.
The original ordinance would have allowed Sunday sales from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. at stores with a quota retail package license, but Commissioner Bill Waltrip proposed an amendment that would extend those hours to from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. after hearing comments from the audience.
A requirement that premises seat at least 100 people and receive at least 50 percent of gross annual income from the sale of food in order to apply for a special Sunday retail drink license would be removed under the proposed ordinance. Language forbidding the sale of alcohol during polling hours on Election Day would also be removed.
Among the people who spoke out against allowing Sunday sales were several owners or managers of liquor stores.
Randal Cochran, general manager for Chuck's Liquors, told the City Commission that extending liquor sales to Sunday will not really increase revenue for liquor stores but will increase operational expenses.
That extra money could potentially come from business payroll budgets as well as charitable efforts, he said.
"I don't believe there's an independent retailer in this town that wants to be open on Sunday," Cochran said.