Somerset: State’s largest ‘dry’ city
June 14, 2012 Share

Somerset: State’s largest ‘dry’ city

“Dry” supporters will rejoice. “Wet” activists will cringe.

But Somerset holds a unique standing in the Commonwealth of Kentucky — it’s the largest city in the state not to have any kind of legal alcohol sales.

Joseph Coleman, research and federal relations manager for the Kentucky League of Cities, confirmed that currently, Somerset is the most populated city that does not have some kind of “wet,” “moist,” or otherwise limited ability within its boundaries to sell alcoholic beverages.

Of course, after June 26, that could change. That’s when Somerset citizens will vote on whether or not to allow both the capacity to serve both alcohol in retail packages and drinks in dining establishments.

Burnside allows sales by the drink in restaurants seating 100 people or more, and there are a couple of wineries in Pulaski County that have received permission to sell their products. However, those are the only opportunities to purchase alcohol locally, and none are in Somerset’s city limits.

Somerset currently has a population of 11,196, based on 2010 census numbers, said Coleman.

Previously, at 13,561 citizens, Berea had been the state’s largest city without any kind of alcohol availability. However, in early April, the historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant won approval in an option election to serve alcohol by the drink. It’s the only establishment in Berea with that capability, qualifying as a “historic site” as per the election’s distinction.

Coleman said that there are three other cities slightly ahead of Somerset on the population list — Georgetown at 29,098, Murray at 17,741, and Glasgow at 14,028 — with limited capabilities.

Georgetown is seeing a drive current to approve package liquor sales. According to a report by the Associated Press, alcohol is sold at three Scott County golf courses — Canwood, Cherry Blossom and Longview — but otherwise Scott County is dry.

Murray — actually the first city in the state to legalize sales by the drink in restaurants of a certain size, much as Burnside does now — has a vote scheduled for July that would widen the sale of alcohol to effectively drop the requirement that there be a 70 percent-30 percent of food to alcohol sold.

Coleman confirmed that there’s a trend in Kentucky cities pushing to include or diversify alcohol sales, which typically comes about by option elections proposed as a way to increase tax revenue and boost the economy.

“We have seen a bit of an increase in the push for expanded alcohol sales,” said Coleman.

By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal