Rock Hill voters deserve to have a referendum on ending the ban on Sunday alcohol sales. We hope the backing of the York County Chamber of Commerce will provide the necessary boost to get this issue on the November ballot.
Last week for the first time, the chamber decided to lend its support to the campaign to allow voters to decide whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales. The chamber board voted unanimously to ask the City Council to put the referendum on the ballot for the November general election.
The chamber's decision comes as a result of a change in state law allowing local governments to decide on their own when to hold referendums. In the past, the only way to call a referendum was to get 10 percent of the registered voters to sign a petition.
A petition drive for a countywide referendum and another for a Rock Hill referendum both came up short. York supporters of Sunday alcohol sales were successful in collecting enough signatures to call a referendum, but voters defeated the measure at the polls.
The result could be the same in Rock Hill, but at least the involvement of the chamber could allow the issue to come up for a vote. Chamber members are aware that this is a big issue for many businesses in the city that would like to be able to serve alcohol on Sunday as well as for businesses that might contemplate opening a restaurant or bar in Rock Hill if Sunday sales were permitted.
Mayor Doug Echols already has said that he supports placing the referendum on the November ballot -- although he declines to say how he feels personally about the Sunday sales issue. We hope a majority on the council will join Echols in choosing to allow Rock Hill voters the chance to decide this issue.
The issue of Sunday alcohol sales is significant for a variety of reasons. By influencing whether new restaurants open in Rock Hill, it could have a large impact on the success of efforts to redevelop Rock Hill's Textile Corridor and other developments throughout the city.
It also could help determine whether customers who want a drink with their meals will patronize local restaurants on Sunday or continue to take their business across the state line to North Carolina. And it could figure in the number of meetings and conventions that are held in the city.
In short, this issue could be a big factor in the economic future of Rock Hill. And that, no doubt, is why the chamber decided to get involved.
While we realize that many hold the opinion that alcohol sales are inappropriate on Sunday, we think the choice is a personal one. No one is forced to drink on Sunday but, by the same token, people should not arbitrarily be denied that privilege.
Local citizens at least should have the chance to vote on this issue. We hope the City Council will give them that chance.
Rock Hill residents should be given the chance to vote on this important economic issue.