Law restricting alcohol sales in Prairie Grove causes problems

Community members in Prairie Grove are trying to overturn a nearly 80-year-old law they say is outdated and restricts liquor sales in parts of town.

The Prairie Grove Dry Zone primarily impacts downtown businesses that want to sell alcohol, as the law allows liquor on U.S. Highway 72.

“Downtown Prairie Grove has always been a source of income,” said Larry Nelson, a downtown Prairie Grove business owner and petition supporter.

One of downtown Prairie Grove’s revenues that has been missing for nearly eight decades is the sale of liquor due to a drylands law.

“There’s absolutely nothing we can do about the upland,” said Prairie Grove city attorney Steven Parker.

Parker says that’s because the law was passed by the people of Prairie Grove. So the people of Prairie Grove must vote to repeal the law that was passed in 1946.

This law, passed a year after the end of World War II, prevented Nelson from revitalizing a store near his current business. For five years, he has been thinking of turning it into a restaurant but he has not yet pursued his dreams because he cannot sell alcohol.

“Clients come to me every week, almost every day,” Nelson said. “It’s always been an issue in the community and at city council meetings, but nobody really ever brought it up.”

So far, some downtown business owners are dropping petitions on their counters and hoping to get enough signatures to put them on the November ballot, but only some signatures will be counted as valid.

“Only people living within the boundaries of Prairie Grove as they existed in 1946 will be able to vote,” Parker said.

Once there are enough valid signatures on the ballet, the next steps are to put it on the roll. Then have the citizens vote on the measure.

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