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Lawrence repeals old law on alcohol sale restriction

August 24, 2018

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials have repealed a restriction on alcohol sales near schools and churches that dates back to Prohibition.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the ordinance had rarely been enforced in recent years, but getting around the rules still required city leaders to go through a time-consuming review process each time a request for a waiver was made.

The City Commission struck the provision from city code during a meeting Tuesday. City Clerk Sherri Riedemann said the original concept for the provision — which barred alcohol sales within 400 feet (122 meters) of a school or church — was enacted in October 1933. It was more restrictive than state law, which prohibits retail liquor stores within 200 feet (61 meters) of schools, colleges or churches.

When the ordinance was in effect, the commission had to hold public hearings before waiving the restrictions, even though nearby schools and churches rarely objected. Since 2013, the city has held 33 such hearings: 26 were for temporary events, while seven were for permanent premises. In each case, the commission granted the waiver.

Commissioners asked city staff to reconsider the provision after one such hearing. Staffers discovered that no public comment was provided during waiver hearings over the past five years, and only once did a neighboring school or church object.

City staff ultimately agreed with the commissioners. In a memo, they said the restrictions were anachronistic, “and the process burdensome.” The memo also noted that the commission still reviews liquor licenses and temporary permits for alcohol sales in the city.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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