Liquor petitions come down to the wire; Measure headed to referendum

Efforts to secure the final petitions to place alcohol sales on a special referendum came down to the wire on Friday, the petition deadline.

Elections officials stopped counting around 2:20 p.m. when they certified petition number 4,298 – the exact number needed to get the measure on a special referendum.

Members of Advance Washington were working through the week to meet the required approximate 4,200 certified petitions, spending several days going door-to-door to speak with registered voters and offer petitions for signature.

“Now the voters have the opportunity to vote,” said Advance Washington County spokesperson Cindy Birge. “If the voters decide to pass this, then Washington County can move forward economically with jobs and growth and hopefully new restaurant, hotels, and event spaces our entire families can enjoy.”

The referendum, which will be held within 120 days of the petition certification, will have voters vote for or against the sale of alcohol by the drink by restaurants that have more than 150 seats and receive 51 percent of revenue through the sale of food, as well as by golf courses with more than nine holes, bowling alleys with more than 12 lanes, and private clubs and organizations that obtain licenses. Additionally, the ballot will ask for voter approval on “bottle store” locations, which will be limited by statute to no more than three stores in Washington County due to population.

Currently, Washington County, Lafayette County, and Liberty County are the only remaining “dry” counties in the state.