DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Tuesday evening, Darlington City Council unanimously passed first reading of a measure regarding Sunday alcohol sales.
If approved, the ordinance on the agenda would place a referendum on this November’s ballot.
Voters would then be able to decide if the South Carolina Department of Revenue could issue 24-hour alcohol permits within the city limits of Darlington regardless what day it is.
“We got a lot of people talking about it,” said Darlington Mayor Gloria Hines. “They want it.”
In other words, you would be able to have a drink at a bar or grab beer at the grocery store on Sundays. This would not apply to liquor stores which are still not allowed to open on Sunday under state law.
City Planning Director Lisa Rock said many travelers just don’t stop in Darlington on the way to vacation because they can’t buy the things they need to enjoy their time off.
“It doesn’t make sense to people coming through,” Rock explained. “We’ve got a lot of through traffic from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach, and when those folks stop they don’t understand why they can’t just get a case of beer or a bottle of wine to take to the beach with them.”
Last November, Hartsville residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of a similar measure, something Mayor Hines says has cost Darlington business.
“A lot of people tell me now, ‘I go to Hartsville and get it,'” Hines recalled. “We don’t want our money going to Hartsville, we want it to accommodate the people in Darlington.”
City Planning Director Lisa Rock says while some officials were not crazy about relaxing alcohol laws, the potential economic impact is hard to deny.
“That’s a big chunk of revenue that we could use to fund other projects,” Rock explained. “Revenue we could use to fund business grants or we could do things that will in turn benefit those businesses in other ways.”
A second and final reading will be held for the measure next month.