After several decades as a dry town, the City of Clarksburg is dry no more — or, at least, the door is now legally open for beer sales inside the city limits.
During their Monday night meeting, Clarksburg aldermen unanimously passed a new ordinance allowing the sale of beer by Clarksburg businesses on a second and final reading.
Alderman Barbara McClure made the motion to pass the ordinance, and Alderman Carrie Etter seconded that motion.
The ordinance stipulates that beer cannot be sold within 200 feet of the front entrance of a school, church, or other public gathering place.
About a dozen local citizens showed up and several shared their opinions during a public hearing immediately before the board meeting.
Mayor Jamie Peterson said a few words at the start of the hearing.
“As mayor and a member of this board, this is a very difficult thing to go through,” said Peterson, who pointed out that since the Kwik Mart shut down earlier this year, there has been nowhere in town where Clarksburg residents can buy gas for their vehicles.
The mayor added that even though the former Kwik Mart property is up for sale, every person or business that has expressed interest in moving in has stipulated that they must be able to sell beer.
Peterson said he has asked Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hurley, who was present at the public hearing, to help bring a convenience store that sells gas to Clarksburg.
Hurley said that he has been in contact with two major chains and both have said they will not even consider Clarksburg without beer sales.
Citizen Gary O’Bryan asked Hurley what assurances he could give that a chain store will move in if beer sales are legalized.
“I wish I could give you assurance, but I can’t,” said Hurley. “They will make a decision based on whether or not they believe they can make a profit and pay off their debt.”
Resident Jerry McDaniel commented that regardless of how the vote goes, some people would be unhappy with it.
“I just ask everybody to respect each other,” said McDaniel. “It’s just a difference of opinion, and, either way, the sun will come up tomorrow morning in Clarksburg.”
McDaniel pointed out that Parker’s Crossroads was bringing in about $120,000 a year in beer tax revenue about eight years ago.
“I think it’s common sense that we get the sale of beer here,” he said. “The ones who drink aren’t going to do it any more or any less.”
Former alderman Stanley Laws said he understands the difficulty the board faces with this decision.
“I’m not here to advocate beer sales in Clarksburg, but for five years I sat at that table, and I know how it is,” said Laws. “The way things are now, it’s hard to survive, and if you want to get a corporate chain to come here and stay here, you’ve got to get up with the times. The day of the mom and pop stores is over.”
Laws also commented that having to drive to Huntingdon or Parker’s Crossroads to buy gas is a big inconvenience.
Resident Ryan Cobb pointed out that no industry is going to move into the city if employees can’t even buy gas or pick up a quick bite to eat.
“How many tax dollars do you think we lose daily?” asked Cobb.
“About $1,200 a month since Kwik Mart closed,” said the mayor.
Laws said that if the town doesn’t get some more sources of revenue soon, a city tax will be the only option to keep the city running.
Some at the hearing expressed their moral opposition to bringing beer sales to Clarksburg but acknowledged it as a necessary evil.
Some also said that they would like to see the city apply a strict hand when it comes to the enforcement of laws regarding beer sales — particularly regarding illegal sales to minors.
When asked by the mayor, Hurley said he would do his best to help bring a major convenience store chain to the town.