PORT ALLEN — Port Allen residents get a chance to decide whether bars and nightclubs within the city limits would be allowed to stay open after 10 p.m. on Sundays.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to put the proposition on an upcoming election ballot.
The move mimics action taken by the West Baton Rouge Parish Council on Tuesday.
The Parish Council also unanimously adopted a resolution to allow voters to decide on the Oct. 22 primary election ballot whether bars and nightclubs in unincorporated areas of the parish can remain open after 10 p.m. on Sundays.
If city and parish voters approve Sunday night liquor sales restrictions, they would not apply to Super Bowl Sunday, a Sunday followed by Memorial Day, Labor Day, the Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, or if the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday, Parish President Riley “Peewee” Berthelot said Wednesday.
The Parish Council voted during its May 12 meeting to enact the Sunday night ban despite protests from business owners who argued that Sunday is their busiest night of the week and shutting down drinking after 10 p.m. would greatly harm their overall sales.
The ordinance the council approved stated that on Sundays, the sale of all alcoholic beverages must stop and the businesses shall be closed at 10 p.m. and may not reopen until 6 a.m. on Mondays, said Jason Manola, executive assistant to the parish president.
But at the Parish Council’s June 23 meeting, council members reversed themselves by approving a resolution asking Berthelot to issue an executive order suspending the council’s May 12 ban on Sunday night liquor sales.
Berthelot said the council’s change of mind raised legal issues.
“We can make them stop selling alcohol, but we couldn’t make them close,” Berthelot said. “It’s an enforcement problem.”
The City Council, which already has an ordinance in place prohibiting Sunday night liquor sales after 10 p.m., took up the issue in anticipation that a business owner could challenge the ordinance.
Mayor R.J. Loupe made the recommendation to put the proposition on the ballot to cover the city’s bases, he said.
City Attorney Victor Woods said no date has been set for the city’s vote, but he will request that city voters get a chance to decide the issue on Oct. 22, the same day as parish voters.
The issue first came before the council in response to two shootings that occurred at parish bars around 3 a.m. on Feb. 14 and March 28, Berthelot has said.