Residents of Mayfield will have to look elsewhere if they want to have a drink in a bar or tavern. The Mayfield City Council has passed an ordinance to prohibit such establishments from operating in the city.
The council was evenly split on the vote following a lengthy debate Monday night. Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell cast the tiebreaker.
The ordinance prohibits the City of Mayfield from issuing quota retail drink licenses. This doesn’t affect restaurants and stores that sell packaged alcohol. The ordinance also doesn't change anything currently as the city's only bar, The M.T. Winchester, closed in November. Mayfield voted to go 'wet' in 2016.
Council members who opposed the ordinance warned the ban could hinder potential businesses and young entrepreneurs. Those who favored the ordinance said alcohol is not the answer.
The City Hall's council chamber was filled to capacity with city and county residents, some weighing in on the issue. Most of the speakers opposed the ordinance, though one supporter came forward and others applauded when it passed.
Beverly Thomas said the city needs to "move into the 21st Century" and allow new businesses to open and flourish or fail on their own merits. She said residents will continue to use the ballot box when they feel a need for change.
Beverly Jones said 'alcoholism' and 'addiction' are issues to be concerned about, not people drinking socially. She said people should be responsible for their own actions and to rely on the police force and mental health professionals if there are issues. "Don't cut the throat of your economy because of your moral beliefs," she said.
Todd Blume of Paducah Beer Werks (and a Mayfield resident) said he hoped the decision wasn't based on one business that failed to stay open, as the next one that tried could be successful. "Why would a business want to open when a city could change the rules and restrict the ability to function," he said in a prepared statement. He urged the city to seek expert advice on the issue.
Todd Alexander is one of the founders of the now-closed M.T. Winchester. "Entertainment in this city is dead," he said, adding that if people wanted to go dancing, play games or spend time with friends they'd have to leave Mayfield. "We can fix that," he said and suggested the city instead use its regulatory powers to bring people into the city.
Council member Steven Elder held a series of signs depicting various examples of reasons why he opposed the measure, from concern over young people leaving the community to prohibiting creative businesses like 'paint and sips' or 'spritzers with pedicures.' Elder elaborated on several points he made in a special meeting in December.
Wes Fowler is the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Mayfield. He spoke in favor of the ordinance. "I am for Mayfield. I am for our families and that's exactly why I'm for this ordinance," he said. In his 17 years as a pastor, he said, he has heard no 'positive stories' about taverns or bars, only negatives.
Council member Chuck Whitnell said he agreed with Elder about finding ways to bring businesses to Mayfield, but said it's not on the alcohol, but the creativity of citizens. "I don't understand why we're fighting about this when it just seems like the community is not interested," he said, noting only one license was issued in more than a year. "For those that want to dance," he said, "Find somebody that can open up a dance club. You've got to have alcohol to dance?"
Chris Johnson is a member of the Kentucky League of Cities Legal Services Team. He helped clarify some of the confusion that seemed to emerge over what is and isn't prohibited by a ban on quota retail drink licenses. He said a microbrewery could operate in Mayfield under the new ordinance, but noted that a business that solely operates as a taproom could not.
Johnson said paint-and-sips and nail salons selling drinks would need a quota retail drink license. "I'm sure the state ABC and your legislators are getting pressure to approve these more specialized types of licenses," he said. Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell later said she is interested in these types of businesses and feels state lawmakers will pass future legislation for them.
How the council voted:
- Nathaneal Cox - No
- Nick Summers - Yes
- Wayne Potts - Yes
- Kathy O'Nan - No
- Chuck Whitnell - Yes
- Johnny Jackson - Yes
- Barry McDonald - No
- Steven Elder - No
- Jana Adams - Absent
- Phil Myers - Absent
- Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell - Yes (Tiebreaker)