There's a debate raging in Pineville, LA right now about whether or not to allow businesses to sell alcohol. Yep, that's right, Pineville is dry. Pineville has been dry for as long as I can remember, except for one short time in 1980 when the Louisiana Supreme Court invalidated the alcohol prohibition laws in the state and called for new elections. For a short time, Pineville and every other "dry" jurisdiction in Louisiana was wet, leading to such bizarre businesses as "Bobs Auto Parts and Package Liquor". The citizens of Pineville ultimately voted the town dry again, except for one small precinct which voted to allow low-alcohol package sales. In that precinct, you can buy beer. Not surprisingly, the beer stores in that precinct do a landslide business, because the beer drinkers don't have to cross the river into Alexandria.
Just across the river, Alexandria is wet. Wide open, it allows alcohol sales in bars and restaurants, package stores, grocery stores and convenience stores. All they need is a license.
Recently, a local developer told the city of Pineville that he was hanging-fire on several development deals. Hotels and restaurants wanted to come into the area, but that they want to be able to sell alcohol and that the prohibition on the Pineville side of the river was the deal-breaker. As regards the city itself, tax revenues are flat, but costs keep increasing. Pineville is simply not able to compete with businesses across the river because of the alcohol prohibition and that prohibition is stifling development.
The usual suspects are against alcohol. They're vocal, committed, and powerful. As are the proponents of development. Pineville held a town-hall meeting yesterday to discuss the issue, and both sides of the argument were allowed to air their opinions.
I note, with some interest, that the demographic in the affected area has changed since the last vote in 1980. Pineville and the area northwest of the river has experienced huge growth since the last vote, with lots of folks taking advantage of better land prices and a more rural environment. As one long-tern resident told me, ":There are houses in places where I never knew there were places to put a house." Indeed, PawPaw lives in a subdivision that wasn't here fifteen years ago.
Whether you're "fer it or ag'in it", it's time for this issue to come before the people. Pineville and the area north of the river has changed dramatically since 1980 and it is time again to revisit this issue. Put it before a vote and let The People decide. Let Freedom Ring.