Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sunday liquor sales to be on April ballot

Local business owner’s request prompts De Soto City Council to let voters have final say on issue

November 11, 2004

De Soto voters will have a chance next spring to decide if they want to allow Sunday liquor sales in the city.

At the request of liquor store owner Dick Brazukas, the De Soto City Council agreed last Thursday to have City Attorney Patrick Reavey draw up a measure that would allow voters to amend city's charter, opting out the state's prohibition against Sunday liquor sales. The measure would be on the ballot in April 2005.

Brazukas made a similar request in June 2003, soon after a Kansas court ruled Wyandotte County and Edwardsville could opt out of the state's Sunday liquor sales ban.

Brazukas told the Council the situation had changed in the last 15 months. Numerous cities have decided to opt out of a state ban, he said. Residents of four Johnson County cities -- Shawnee, Olathe, Gardner and Edgerton -- voted overwhelmingly Nov. 2 to give their cities that authority.

After Brazukas' first request, the Council scheduled a public hearing on the topic. The bid ended after a public hearing when no Council member made a motion to amend the city charter.

Councilman Tim Maniez said he received numerous phone calls opposing Brazukas' first request.

Despite Maniez's reservation, he joined the rest of the Council in voting to put the question before city voters.

The Council could have approved the charter change without placing the question on the ballot. But that action would have been subject to a protest petition.

Councilman Emil Urbanek said a petition could have been expected.

"Why waste the time?" he said. "Put it on the ballot, and let the voters decide."

The referendum would put an end to the issue one way or the other, Urbanek said.

Brazukas' request wasn't supported by the owners of the city's other liquor store, R and D Liquor on Lexington Avenue. Roxanne Hecke, who owns the store with her husband, Dan, said the couple didn't think Sunday sales would help their business.

"We're not in favor of it," Roxanne said. "Most everybody that wants for Sunday gets it ahead of time.

"We consider that our family time. We wouldn't want to see Sunday liquor sales."

The Council could have passed a charter ordinance allowing Sunday liquor sales subject to a protest petition, which could have forced a referendum on the change. Instead, the Council decided to approve a measure that would take the issue straight to voters.

Later in the meeting, Urbanek asked Johnson County Sheriff Major Walt Waye if the sheriff's department saw increased activity calls in city's that approved Sunday liquor sales. Waye said the sheriff's department didn't yet experience that situation.

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