By Errol Castens | NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
NEW ALBANY – A little more than three years after Union County residents voted to keep the county dry, they will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the issue again.
State law allows a liquor referendum to be put on the ballot as often as every two years.
Such a referendum may be voted on only on a county-wide basis, unlike beer and light wine, which can be legalized within a single municipality while the rest of the county remains dry.
If Tuesday’s referendum passes, licensed stores could sell liquor and wine of more than 5 percent alcohol content by the bottle, and licensed restaurants could sell it by the drink. Both types of businesses would be restricted to cities and towns, which in Union County would include New Albany, Sherman, Myrtle and Blue Springs, but residents could legally drink in their homes county-wide.
Campaigning on the referendum has ranged from yard signs urging residents to vote against liquor to newspaper ads that touted increased sales, decreased arrests in some alcohol-related categories since the legalization of beer in New Albany and the possibility of increasing property values and attracting more restaurants with legalization of liquor.
Voters last faced a decision on liquor legalization in November 2008. At that time they voted to keep the county dry by a 57- to 43-percent margin.