Liquor-by-the-drink petition due today

By Julie Fann and Thomas Wilson

   Three hundred and two legitimate names and addresses.
   That's the number of signatures required on a petition requesting a citywide referendum on liquor-by-the-drink on the Nov. 5 election ballot.
   The petition with 302 names must be turned in to the Carter County Election Commission by noon today to be placed on the ballot.
   County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris confirmed that 3,022 city residents had cast votes in the 2000 gubernatorial election.
   State law requires the petition to have 10 percent of the total city voters in the 2002 gubernatorial election to place the referendum on the ballot.
   Only city residents may sign the petition and only city residents may vote on the referendum if the petition is deemed legitimate, she said.
   A liquor-by-the-drink petition must be presented to the local Election Commission not less than 45 days before the next regularly scheduled federal, state, county or city general election.
   The petition includes only city voters and the referendum will only be open in city voting precincts of Gap Creek, West Side, Courthouse, East Side, Happy Valley, and a handful of voters in both the Central and Valley Forge precincts.
   The liquor-by-the-drink referendum last appeared on a city election ballot in November 1988. City voters defeated the proposal by a margin of 1,880 votes for to 2,521 against.
   State law allows private clubs and groups to obtain special licenses to sell liquor.
   The state Alcoholic Beverage Commission can issue liquor-by-the-drink licenses to private, nonprofit groups that have been established for at least two years and have at least 100 members. About 258 clubs are licensed statewide.