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Utah County city to allow Sunday beer sales

But Springville tightens liquor license rules

SPRINGVILLE — City officials made changes Tuesday night to the city's alcohol ordinance that both tighten and loosen the liquor laws.

The biggest change consumers will notice is that Springville grocery and convenience stores will soon be selling beer on Sundays. According to checks done by the Deseret News with other cities, once the amendments go into effect Springville will be the only Utah County city that allows stores to sell beer on Sundays.

The former ordinance prohibited Sunday sales of beer, but taverns and restaurants were allowed to sell beer on Sundays under their state license.

"We've been telling convenience stores they can't sell on Sundays while we've been allowing tavern owners to sell on Sundays," Police Chief Scott Finlayson said.

City officials say changing the Sunday rule to reflect the state code levels the playing field for all businesses. However, beer cannot be sold between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.

For restaurant and tavern owners, the ordinance was also amended to require them to meet conditions for a city beer license before they can get city consent for a state liquor license, which allows them to sell hard liquor and mixed drinks.

The changes were initiated when city officials discovered recently that while the LaCasita restaurant on north Main Street didn't qualify for a city beer license, the restaurant was allowed to sell mixed drinks and hard liquor under a state license. City leaders believe that a state license shouldn't be granted to those who can't get a city license.

To obtain a state license, however, the city must first give consent. The changes made Tuesday night say the city won't give that consent unless business owners also meet the conditions for a beer license.

"In order to get that consent, they would also have to meet our conditions, not just the state's conditions," city attorney Troy Fitzgerald said.

The effect of Tuesday night's changes will be that business owners who don't qualify for a city license won't be allowed to sell any liquor. To obtain a city license, applicants can have no felony convictions or alcohol or gambling violations for the past two years. The two-year time period was added to the ordinance Tuesday night.

City officials say some may paint their decision to change the ordinance as morally motivated, but the amendments are simply an effort to make the city's alcohol ordinance consistent with state liquor laws.

"We're not on a crusade to legislate against alcoholic beverages," Councilwoman Dianne Carr said.

In LaCasita's case, the violation that kept it from getting a city license occurred more than two years ago, so the restaurant can submit a new application for a beer license. The amended ordinance now assesses a $100 application fee to cover background checks on applicants conducted by the police department.

The ordinance was also amended to define convenience stores and supermarkets. Stores with less than 10,000 square feet are classified as convenience stores, and those larger than 10,000 square feet as supermarkets. The code limits the number of licenses issued in the city to each type of establishment.