Petition for Sunday liquor sales fails to get enough signatures

9 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Citizens in the community have failed in their bid to secure a referendum question on the November ballot to ask residents if theywanted to allow sales of beer and wine on Sunday.

Town Manager Butch Asselin informed town councilors during Monday’s meeting that petitioners failed to secure the minimum of 315 signatures necessary to get the matter on the November ballot. He added that supporters of the measure could still use the petition process to try to get it on the ballot in June 2016 when the local school budget also comes up for a vote.

The alcohol sales issue came up in April, after a local convenience store owner filed a complaint over the Sunday sales of beer and wine with the state’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages.

The bureau investigated the complaint and determined that when the state revamped liquor enforcement laws in 2013 the changes affected how the legal definitions of liquor — which includes beer and wine — and spirits — which is only hard liquors, such as vodka, rum, whiskey and bourbon — apply to towns such as Houlton with local ordinances governing the sale of alcohol in the town.

As a result of the new definitions and the way the local regulations and state laws applied, the bureau ordered the three larger grocery stores in Houlton — Hannaford, County Yankee and Andy’s IGA — which also are agency liquor stores, to cease Sunday sales of beer and wine.

The businesses, however, still are allowed to sell hard liquor, such as vodka and rum on Sunday.

Residents dining in Houlton still are allowed to consume beer, wine and hard liquor in licensed restaurants in the community on Sunday. Also, Sunday sales are allowed in neighboring communities, such as New Limerick.