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July 23, 2014

Vote would OK Sunday beer, wine sales in all of county

State revenue officials will allow wine and beer sales by the package on Sunday at retailers inside all Lexington County municipalities if voters countywide OK the step at the Nov. 4 ballot.

State revenue officials will allow wine and beer sales by the package on Sunday at retailers inside all Lexington County municipalities if voters countywide OK the step at the Nov. 4 ballot.

“If it is approved, we think that that would cover cities,” agency spokeswoman Meredith Cleland said Wednesday.

State revenue officials oversee the sale of alcoholic beverages, including approval for stores seeking to sell such merchandise and when they can do so.

The decision apparently settles uncertainty over whether the referendum would allow such purchases inside 11 Lexington County municipalities that bar it as well as in unincorporated areas.

It’s consistent with what’s happened elsewhere in many of the state’s nine counties where voters have approved the idea, Cleland said.

Separate referendums were required across adjoining Richland County in 2008 and 2009, after officials there limited repeal to unincorporated areas.

But Lexington County Council is near final approval of the ballot plan letting shoppers buy six-packs of beer and bottles of wine on Sunday anywhere in the county.

Repeal of the ban on such sales is one of the few instances in which county leaders can apply the outcome both inside and outside municipalities, County Attorney Jeff Anderson said.

The ban on beer and wine sales by the package is the last major restriction on Sunday shopping in the steadily growing county.

Approval by voters is required for its elimination.

About a sixth of the county’s population of 273,000 residents live in the 11 municipalities affected – Batesburg-Leesville, Cayce, Gaston, Gilbert, Pelion, Pine Ridge, South Congaree, Springdale, Summit, Swansea and West Columbia.

Leaders in some communities don’t favor repeal, but most accept the decision of county leaders to apply the referendum inside their towns and cities.

Countywide repeal is designed to avoid a confusing checkerboard of controls for shoppers and merchants alike, supporters say.

Sunday sales already are permitted in Chapin, Irmo and Lexington.

Cayce has its own Nov. 4 referendum on Sunday sales to allow it to occur there if the countywide plan fails.

Lexington would be the 10th county in South Carolina to allow Sunday sale of beer and wine by the package.

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