Laurens County voters will decide Tuesday whether or not to allow alcohol sales on Sundays in unincorporated areas of the county, but that’s not what was supposed to be on the ballot.
The phrase “unincorporated areas” was added to the question that appears on the General Election ballot, but the county’s ordinance calling for the referendum did not contain the phrase. The referendum was supposed to allow for Sunday alcohol sales throughout the county if approved.
Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime said he is unclear how or why the language was changed on the ballot. Nor does he know what it means in legal terms.
The Laurens County Council approved the ordinance in April to place the question of Sunday alcohol sales on the ballot. The ordinance calling for the referendum was approved without any comment from the public, and council members voted 4-0 to give final approval on the referendum on April 24. Councilman Garrett McDaniel abstained because he owns a business that sells alcohol.
Caime said then that the decision by council was made to put the choice of Sunday alcohol sales into the hands of the voters.
If the referendum passes, it would give some local restaurants with beer and liquor licenses a level playing field with similar restaurants across county lines. Neighboring counties such as Greenwood, Greenville and Spartanburg allow Sunday alcohol sales.
If approved by voters Tuesday, restaurants and bars would be able to serve beer, wine and liquor on Sundays. Stores that normally sell beer and wine would also be able to do so on Sundays. Under state law, package stores will remain closed on Sundays.
A “yes” vote would mean the voter is in favor of the referendum and would allow on-premises Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants and bars and off-premises sales for retail outlets such as grocery and convenience stores.