Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Commission Asked to Rethink Limits on Sunday Liquor Sales; Clay Chamber Wants to Start Sales at 7 A.M. Rather Than 2 P.M

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Commission Asked to Rethink Limits on Sunday Liquor Sales; Clay Chamber Wants to Start Sales at 7 A.M. Rather Than 2 P.M

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

Seven months after rejecting a proposal to extend Sunday alcohol sales, the Clay County Commission is being lobbied to reconsider.

Whether they will take a second look remains to be seen.

On Tuesday, a contingent from the Clay County Chamber of Commerce asked that the 1991 ordinance banning Sunday alcohol sales before 2 p.m. in unincorporated areas be changed to let them begin at 7 a.m.

With many Clay businesses suffering in the economic downturn, and county government's coffers draining low, the additional hours would create jobs and boost business profits, tourism and tax revenues, they said.

"Many things spur off of those hours," said Tim McLane, the chamber's governmental affairs chairman.

The later sales hour places Clay businesses at a disadvantage to neighboring counties and municipalities that allow earlier Sunday alcohol sales, said Troy Albers, general manager of The Golf Club at Fleming Island Plantation.

The "old antiquated law" behind that competitive disadvantage should change with the times, he said.

"We need to move forward on this ... now is the time to do it," Albers said. "The county needs the tax revenue and this is what the people of Clay County want."

In a non-binding straw poll on the November 2008 general election ballot, 51,985 Clay voters, or 60 percent, supported allowing earlier Sunday alcohol sales, with 34,725, or 40 percent, voting no.

The current county law allows sales from 2 p.m. through midnight. On other days, sales are allowed from 7 a.m. through 2 a.m. the following day.

Despite the straw poll results, in February, the commission rejected a proposal to extend Sunday hours. At that February meeting, other commissioners said they supported the groups who requested the extension - Veterans of Foreign Wars members who sell alcohol to members at their headquarters and contribute much of the proceeds to charity - but opposed additional alcohol sales hours. …

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