Alcohol sales in Blanding on the November ballot

by Kara Laws
With four “ayes” and one abstention at the March 14 meeting of the Blanding City Council, the issue of alcohol sales in Blanding will be on the November general election ballot.
Officials state that adding this to the ballot will give the city the ability to “determine the will of the citizens of Blanding regarding the sale of beer and wine in city limits”.
The ballot item will only ask about beer and wine. It does not discuss, ask, or suggest any other alcohol sales within Blanding City limits.
If residents of Blanding vote in favor, the ban will be lifted on beer and wine only and all state regulations will still apply.
If residents vote to lift the ban, the Council intends to begin drawing an ordinance to lift the ban as soon as it is practical.
If residents vote against lifting the ban, the council says all alcohol regulations will remain the same.
Several citizens spoke in council about the ban, and the vast majority were in favor of it being lifted. Sharon Guymon, who owns Homestead Steak House on Center Street, said, “We are not advocating for hard liquor or bars in Blanding. We do think that wine and beer would not be harmful. People enjoy certain drinks while eating.”
Homestead Steak House expressed concern with some tourist scrutiny online, due to their inability to sell alcoholic beverages.
Guymon shared several online reviews with alcohol complaints to help sway the council.
One visitor writes, “I had not even one alcoholic beer. I suggest to avoid [Blanding] completely.”
Others expressed shock at the existence of dry towns. Another writes, “Pity it was a dry town, as a glass of wine would have topped off the meal.”
Others report seeing other patrons leave the establishment due to the lack of alcohol on the menu.
Guymon told a personal story of patrons storming out of the restaurant without finishing their meals because of the inability to serve wine with dinner.
She added, “I do not drink coffee or tea, yet they are available for our customers. I think we need to be more aware of people’s needs and desires when they visit our city.”
Homestead Stake House has 392 reviews on TripAdvisor and 25 mention the lack of alcohol, wine, or beer at the restaurant.
While some tourists were clearly unhappy, others didn’t seem to mind.
One writes, “They don’t serve beer or wine, but service is quick, friendly … When you have to dine in Blanding, [Homestead] will give you a reason to cheer … Food is good, atmosphere is friendly. I recommend.”
Others saw the alcohol issue as a minor inconvenience, writing “the only thing we missed was a nice glass of wine to go with our dinner … But that is a very minor thing in light of the excellent food, decor, and service.”
Homestead Steak House is approximately 150 feet from a preschool. State regulations stipulate no alcohol sales within 600 feet of a school, church, or park. This is also the case for most stores and restaurants in Blanding. However, distance from these areas has been overlooked in other towns in the past.
Clark’s Market, Canyon County, and ShopKo would likely be the largest retailers of beer and wine in town. However, other Clark’s Market do not sell alcohol. Will Utah's only Clark’s Market will be single store to sell alcohol?
Several other residents spoke in support of lifting the alcohol ban. Some reasoned it would increase tourist stays and spending. Others said it is just about people having the choice to drink or not.
One in attendance spoke in favor of leaving the ban, stating the lack of difference he sees alcohol playing in successful and not successful businesses. Meyer said he likes the ban and would vote in favor of it remaining.
Councilman Joe Lyman reiterated his previous statement that this is an issue for the people of Blanding to decide and not for the council to decide for residents.
Councilman Taylor Harrison reminded the council that the last vote happened before his generation was able to vote, and before many of them were even born. He said it is time for them to get a say.
With that, four of five councilmen voted to add the proposal to the 2017 general election ballot.
Along with the discussion of adding alcohol to the ballot, the Blanding City Council also voted in favor of keeping the new mail-in voting system.
While some council members prefer to come in to vote, they could not deny the increase in voter participation with the mail in system. The traditional election system reported 29 percent of registered voters casting their votes, while the mail in system reported a 51 percent participation rate.
In other city council news, the council passed a resolution that states the sale of goods is only allowed at the Blanding South Park. So, to sell goods in any other city park, vendors must get written permission from the city. Sales in Blanding South Park are only allowed on Friday, Saturday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.
All vendors must have a permit from the city and bring their own tables. Sellers can no longer use the city tables. The city will be enforcing the new regulations, and a list of all regulations is available at the city office building, as well as at the Wellness Center. Permits are available in both locations.
The new city logo was also discussed as Flitch Creative sent more logo samples for feedback. The logo was not loved by any members of council, and several in attendance spoke openly about their distaste for it as well.
At a prior council meeting, the council was presented with several ideas, and sketches from local art classes. However, council was not pulled towards any of those designs either.
Councilman Trevor Olsen finally presented the option of hiring 50 different companies to give council their design ideas.
This option allows the council to pay $800 for the 50 ideas. The company that they choose then receives the $800. If city council does not like any of the designs, they are refunded their $800 and remain in the same place they sit now.
Flitch Creative sent a small lecture, along with their designs stating that council should be aware of the five pillars of design: simple, versatile, timeless, memorable, and appropriate.
Many in attendance did not feel that the design council received fit any of the qualities and are excited to see what the 50 companies can bring.
Blanding City residents have expressed their desire to see a logo that embodies the people here, and is something they can show off and be proud of.
In other news, the city approved the electric bond bid for the $1.4 million. This will update the electric system throughout the rest of town and help ensure all residents have access to reliable electricity with fewer power outages.

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