Council to repeal Sunday alcohol sales

Faced with a legal petition that would require the city to hold a special election on the matter by July 1, the Hillsboro City Council decided at its June 7 meeting to rescind a recent ordinance to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

By a 3-1 vote, the council had approved at its March 15 meeting Ordinance 1204, which would have allowed the sale of liquor and cereal malt beverages in Hillsboro on Sundays, except for Easter.

The original request to allow Sunday alcohol sales had come from the owner of R&D Liquor in Hills?boro Heights, who felt his store was at a competitive disadvantage.

Once an ordinance is officially published, state law allows members of the public 60 days to file a legal petition calling for a public election on the issue.

To be valid, the petition in this case needed at least 98 certified signatures?which would be 10 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the 2009 mayoral election.

With the petition certified by the county clerk May 18, the city would be required to hold a city-wide referendum on the ordinance by July 1?the 45-day limit allowed by law.

Noting the logistic difficulty of organizing the election by the deadline, plus the estimated cost of $1,884 to the city, council members voted 4-0 to initiate a new ordinance that will rescind the original one.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Delores Dalke said Don Vindus?ka, owner of R&D Liquor, had asked the city to rescind the notion after hearing of the petition.

The petition effort, headed by Plato Shepherd, pastor of the Cottonwood Valley Independent Baptist Church, originally had collected 316 signatures. But because of a misunderstanding regarding the notary procedure, as well as the elimination of a few names because of other technicalities, all but 99 signatures were disqualified.

About 18 petition supporters attended the June 7 meeting. Shepherd said the misunderstanding was his fault.

?The only reason all the others (signatures) were thrown out is, when I read the affidavit that we had to sign before the petition is circulated...I did not realize that we were supposed to wait until every single signature was on there (before the petition was notarized),? he said.

Dalke said the local notaries who signed off on the petition should have understood the requirements. She said the Secretary of State?s office indicated it would be contacting each of those notaries.

Two people expressed their disappointment with that outcome.

?It?s a shame that we would hurt our local notaries by talking to the state about it. I think that really doesn?t pertain to the issue,? one of them said.

Beyond the procedural error, Shepherd spoke to his personal opposition to alcohol use in general, citing past family experiences as a key reason.

As for the ordinance allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays, Shepherd cited the vulnerability of local college students.

?We?ve got 500 or so Tabor students and they have enough temptation, I personally feel,? he said. ?Being away from home for the first time, I know they sign a thing (lifestyle contract) that they will do right, but peer pressure is a lot sometimes.

?And maybe, just that day, this might (make a difference).?

Earlier during his remarks, Shepherd wanted the council to know the petitioners were not angry at the council for its initial decision.

?I think everybody should know that those of us who signed the petition has anything against the city or the way the city council is doing business,? he said.

?No. 1, this is something I am so strong about. Everybody here, and I make no bones about it, knows that I?m against alcohol.?

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