Opinion

Sunday alcohol sales

The latest drive to end the ban on Sunday alcohol sales in York County seems to have just about everything moving in its favor this time around.

Past efforts have failed, which makes overconfidence a danger. But previous campaigns never got off the ground because of the ineptitude of petition drives that failed to secure enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Last week, supporters of Sunday sales submitted nine boxes of petitions to the county elections office, saying they were confident that they had more than the 7,500 signatures required. If they are right, the question will appear on the ballot in November 2008.

A variety of factors augur well for the campaign. For one, supporters point to the influx of more than 20,000 new voters in Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie, where residents are more likely to support Sunday sales.

The question also will be decided during a presidential election year, so turnout is likely to be high. That, too, could favor Sunday sales if voters from the more populous parts of the county flock to the polls.

The York County Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed holding this referendum, although it has not taken an official position on whether Sunday sales should be legalized. That is similar to the stand the chamber took when Rock Hill held its referendum last fall. While this is not an outright endorsement of Sunday alcohol sales, it is a good indication of where the local business community stands on the issue.

The success of the Rock Hill drive also should provide some momentum for the countywide campaign. Sixty-one percent of Rock Hill voters favored Sunday sales, to the rejoicing of local restaurants, many of which saw a significant increase in Sunday business as a result of the change in the law.

Significantly, none of the dire predictions of gloom and doom by opponents of Sunday sales came to pass.

Economic concerns are at the root of this campaign for many involved. County restaurants would welcome the chance to serve alcohol on Sundays, which would increase sales and give local diners an option other than going to Charlotte if they want alcohol with their Sunday meal.

The lifting of the Sunday sales ban also may have been a factor in attracting a number of new restaurants to Rock Hill since the fall referendum. Other parts of the county undoubtedly would like to attract some new restaurants as well.

We agree with supporters that lifting the ban would be good for business throughout the county, helping to increase restaurant patronage on Sunday, generating more local tax revenues and more economic activity. We also think residents should have the choice of ordering alcohol on Sundays if they want. Alcohol already is available six days a week at many local establishments, and there is no good reason to outlaw its sale on Sunday.

Whatever the outcome of this referendum, it is important to give county voters the chance to decide this issue and we hope this question will be on the ballot next year.

York County voters deserve the chance to vote on whether to drop ban on Sunday sales.

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