ELECTION 2023: Hamilton liquor options pass by large margin

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Hamilton voters are supporting the two local liquor options amendments for the city’s two Community Entertainment Districts, according to Butler County’s unofficial election results.

Issues 15 and 16, which would permit business owners with liquor permits to bypass the signature collection phase in attempting to get a Sunday alcohol sales option on an election ballot, have received 72.8% and 73% of the vote, respectively, according to unofficial results.

“This is a great day for Hamilton,” said Joe Hoelle, of Hamilton’s Urban Backyard, calling the ability for small businesses within the two Community Entertainment Districts to bypass the signature-collection process to place a local option on a future Hamilton ballot “a game-changer.”

Hamilton City Council earlier this year decided it wanted to allow businesses within its two Community Entertainment Districts (CEDs), which are on either side of B Street, to bypass the signature-collection process when seeking a Sunday sales local option on the ballot.

Passage of the two issues means that businesses with an existing liquor license (D1 or D5) would still be required to file paperwork with the Butler County elections office to get the issue on a future ballot.

This voter-approved signature bypass process, however, is only permitted by Ohio law for businesses within a CED, which is a nuanced and complex process to create. Hamilton’s two districts were created several years ago and the primary two components in creating the specialized districts included a minimum of a $50 million investment (it can be a single project or multiple projects) and an existing property owner must petition for its creation.

Hamilton’s two CEDs were created because of the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill development, which is bisected by North B Street. It fulfilled the investment requirement, separately taking each of the development’s buildings ― the sports complex and the hotel and conference center ― into account. A business owner along Main Street was the applicant in 2018.

“It’s going to bring more people out to what we’ve got going on already,” Hoelle said. “We’re on fire now. This town is hot right now, and this just adds to us moving forward.”

He also believes that a bar or restaurant that’s closed on Sundays because it cannot sell liquor will change, which gives people that many more options to come to Hamilton.

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