Kayla Fleming/For the Times The Lafayette Beer Board voted to rewrite three amended proposals at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Kayla Fleming/For the Times

The Lafayette Beer Board voted to rewrite three amended proposals at its Nov. 20 meeting.

The Lafayette Beer Board held another meeting on Nov. 20 to further discuss three proposals that Mayor Richard Driver had put forward in September.

Driver told the board that he had received several phone calls in the past few days and had received "the same for it, as against it." He continued by saying that he felt this was representative of the board members themselves.

He was hoping for some compromise at the meeting.

"In the past we've tried to talk about this, but we've had some issues with voting on this, and I hope that we can overcome these issues," Driver said. "We're here to represent the city and the citizens. We're here to represent not only our churches but also the other churches within the city."

Driver asked the board if there was any way for compromise.

Beer board member Pam Cothron read a message she had received from a citizen.

"I don't drink alcohol at all, so it doesn't affect me personally, but I don't see the need to change any of it," the letter detailed. "I like the little town I grew up in, the way it was when I grew up."

Cothron said that was most of what she had received.

"More people are telling me they do not want it changed than those that do," Cothron said.

Driver asked if it was a good thing for Lafayette to stay like it was. Cothron responded that she wasn't sure if "staying like it was when I grew up is necessarily a good thing," but that is the response she was hearing from locals.

Driver said he felt that many people he spoke with wanted Lafayette to remain as it was 15-20 years ago.

"Every day we hear about people leaving town to go find work," Driver said. "Every day we hear that, of course we want to bring industry here, and we're working on that. But when we sit here and we say, "We don't care what our young people think. We want Lafayette to be how we remember it.' Is that a correct thing to do?... If Lafayette doesn't change, we won't grow like we have the capability to do."

Beer board member Jason Phelps told the board that he had not received many comments at all concerning the proposals, with the exception of a few concerning the door-to-door distance. "Most of them have been indifferent (concerning on premise)," Phelps said.

Phelps told the board and stated that he had initiated most of the conversations himself.

Board member Seth Blankenship said he had experienced the same.

"They feel like it's not going to affect them one way or the other," Blankenship said. "To our revenue, though, looking at it revenue-wise, it's a good idea. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to partake in it, the way I look at it."

Board member Steve Turner indicated that his conversations had been "half and half."

"Some of them just really don't care," Turner said.

He feels that more are against it than for it.

Board member Roger Russell said that he had spoken with 81 people, and after which, there was "no change" to what he said in the past. Russell has abstained from voting or voted against the proposals since they initially arose.

Cothron is concerned with protecting schools, churches, and other public organizations concerning distance and time of sale.

Board member Jerry Wilmore questioned Lafayette Chief of Police Stacy Gann about whether there were more deaths caused by drunk driving or distracted driving. Gann told the board there were more deaths due to distracted driving.

"We're not going to condemn cellphones," Wilmore said. "We're not going to ban them on the streets. Tobacco is probably next, cancer-causing, that kills people. We're not going to ban tobacco sales. You can buy it seven days a week, 24 hours a day somewhere here in Lafayette. We're not shutting down drug stores or doctor's offices that prescribe hydrocodone."

Wilmore then asked Gann how bad the drug issue was, to which Gann replied, "It's bad."

"We're here condemning one thing when we've got several more things," Wilmore said. "If we're going to start condemning, we're just as well to condemn all of them."

Lafayette city attorney Jimmy White also pointed out the issue with the highly-popular vapes. "You can have much more than tobacco in them." White said. "And we have no authority over tobacco and tobacco shops, as you see, going 24/7. The vapes are perfectly legal."

Cothron asked if White was saying, "We're trying to control something we can't control."

"Legal-wise, we have a way to control it, and we're really worrying about something we can legally control," White said. "There were referendums statewide on alcohol issues. If you want to buy it, you can buy it, and only one out of all the referendums there were failed. Can we legislate morality?"

The board then looked at the first proposal concerning door-to-door distance between a non-retail place of public gathering, or a church or school, and an establishment that sells beer. After some discussion, the board agreed that a probable compromise would be to leave the distance from churches and schools at 500 feet, door to door.

The board was concerned with what a daycare would be categorized as, as White told them it was not a school. The board decided to include it as a place of public gathering.

The beer board defined a place of public gathering specifically to be hospitals, nursing homes, parks, and daycares, for the purpose of this resolution. While churches and schools would remain at 500 feet, the previously-defined public gathering places were proposed to be moved to 300 feet.

All of the beer board members voted to have the amended proposal recommended to the city council. This will be the second time this proposal has been recommended by the beer board to the council.

The board then examined on-premise beer consumption. The board talked at length about potential ways to prevent a beer joint or tavern from opening under the guise of a restaurant. The board spoke about requiring a certain number of bathrooms, restricting advertisement, and setting a minimum number of seats. The board also discussed requiring a business to submit a report, including receipts from the beer and food they ordered.

Many members of the board questioned how an establishment that sells beer could be policed to ensure they are meeting standards established by the board, if the resolution was to pass.

"I'm not saying there is anyone doing it now, but I'd say in the future there will be people who won't run it honest," Russell said. "They won't turn in honest reports

Cothron added, "You can't help that. You're going to find that ... I don't care what you do, anywhere you go."

Russell later told the board that most of the conversations he had with people concerned on-premise, and that many of them did not approve.

"Majority of my conversations also acknowledged that they had to frequent (establishments that serve beer) and didn't care much about it in other towns," Russell said. "But they said, people would talk about how good another town is, and they would say, 'I don't want that brought to Lafayette.' "

Wilmore countered that no one would be forced to drink beer were the on-premise beer consumption to be approved.

"That is a personal choice," Wilmore said. "No one has forced it on anybody, but we are forcing the ones that want it, not being able to."

Cothron added that they were not being restricted from going out of town.

Wilmore responded that people he had spoken with were tired of driving out of town.

Cothron added that some restaurants in the city would allow patrons to bring their own beer, if it complied with state law and was in a bag.

"Why would we allow that," Wilmore said, noting that more tax dollars could be collected if people purchased beer from restaurants, as beer from restaurants is often more expensive.

Russell also questioned whether anyone had spoken with waitresses who work at restaurants that serve beer.

"They say it gives them a blank ticket to abuse them," Russell said. "They have to make a living. When you serve the beer, they get to drinking a little bit. They get to kidding around with you, and then, it gets out of hand. More than one (person) told me that."

Driver responded that he didn't believe restaurant owners would allow people to sit in their restaurant and get drunk.

"They want these to be family restaurants," Driver said.

Russell later made a motion to end discussions on the proposals indefinitely. The motion was not seconded, so discussions resumed.

Cothron motioned that the on-premise beer consumption proposal be rewritten to include suggestions made by the board, including a minimum amount of seating and the possibility of submitting reports detailing the amount of both food and beer purchased.

Russell voted no, while all of the other members of the board voted in favor of the proposal. Russell later made the suggestion to add that, "Any time the establishment is open, meals shall be available."

The proposal will be reintroduced in January.

The board also discussed Sunday beer sales. Without much discussion, the board decided to rewrite the proposal to allow beer sales on Sundays been 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Blankenship, Cothron, Willmore, and Phelps voted to approve the change and hear the proposal again in January. Russell abstained, and Turner voted no.

Therefore, the motion passed and will be heard again in January.