Bethel residents wanted 'wet' city, but not drenched

Posted: Friday, January 22, 2010

BETHEL - Less than four months after deciding to lift a ban on liquor sales, Bethel sent a stronger message that residents don't want bars or liquor stores.

A citywide advisory vote this week asked residents what kind of alcohol sales they support, if any, now that the city has gone from "damp" to "wet." More than 60 percent said no to liquor stores; more than 70 percent disapproved of bars.

Bethel's 32-year-old damp status prohibited alcohol sales and limited imports. Local alcohol sales are still illegal for now because businesses have yet to obtain liquor licenses. Mayor Joe Klejka said the city can use the results of the advisory vote to object to applications.

Four restaurants, the city's largest store and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post have applied to the state for liquor licenses, according to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

"It'll be a no-brainer now for us to protest every license," Klejka told the Anchorage Daily News.

The City Council, which called for the advisory election to help clarify what voters wanted, has already voted to protest the first application pending before the state. It also agreed to forbid bars and liquor stores within 300 feet of schools and churches.

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