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A petition for a referendum to allow Sunday alcohol sales at Lancaster County restaurants is now in the hands of local election officials.
Petition organizer Elissa Boyet announced Wednesday the group behind the effort wrapped up the first phase of the drive and submitted the petition to local election officials for certification.
Boyet made the announcement during a press conference at Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm.
“We submitted the Sunday restaurant alcohol sales petition to the Lancaster County Voter Registration office this morning,” Boyet said Wednesday. “Our petition had 4,770 signatures on 1,453 pages.
“The last sign-up was (Tuesday) and we shut it down at 4,” she said. “We needed the signatures of 10 percent of county voters – 4,390, so we exceeded the minimum amount.”
Boyet said the voter registration office has 60 days to certify the signatures on the petition as valid Lancaster County voters and check for duplicate signatures.
Once the process is complete and the petition certified, the referendum can be put on the Nov. 6, 2012, general election ballot.
Boyet said now that the petition has been submitted, the second phase of the effort will begin.
“We won’t be going away. Next, we’ll be forming a committee to run the campaign portion,” Boyet said. “We’ll focused on getting the word out.”
Boyet said the campaign portion of the effort will consist of several different aspects, from fundraising to pay for signs and tracking expenses to sign placement and wording of the referendum on the ballot.
Boyet said the committee will include at least 12 county residents and she’s asking the public to join her in carrying the effort forward.
Not only is the group looking for committee members, but it is also looking for someone with expertise in managing large projects to help organize the effort going forward.
“It’s not something someone can do on their own,” Boyet said. “If the public really wants this, they’re going to have to stand up and get involved.”
Boyet, who started the petition in August 2010 after searching unsuccessfully one Sunday for a place to dine in Indian Land, maintains that allowing Sunday alcohol sales is both an economic and quality-of-life issue.
A restaurant will have to pay at least $3,000 for a license to sell alcohol on Sunday. Revenue from those license fees – as well as tax revenue generated by restaurants, both current and future – will help fund county needs such as education and draw other businesses, Boyet said.
Otherwise, she said, the county will keep losing potential revenue to neighboring counties and in both Carolinas.
“The need behind this initiative is plain and simple,” Boyet said. “The few full-service restaurants that exist in this county remain closed on Sunday due to losing money to North Carolina and outlying counties.
“We, in Lancaster County, want and need to save and create jobs and there is no better way economically then bringing restaurants to the area and allowing the current ones to make a living,” she said.
For details on how to become involved, contact Boyet at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 396-5363.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151