BELPRE - A new convenience store in the city has a permit on the November ballot that, if passed will allow the store to sell beer as a carry-out item.
An incoming Go-Mart to be in the former BP station at 206 Washington Blvd. has had petitions approved and will seek the approval of voters in the 1A precinct in the Nov. 8 general election, said Peggy Byers, director of the Washington County Board of Elections.
According to the Ohio code, the C-1 permit on the ballot is only for the sale of beer, not for other beverages that would need other permits that include the C-2, which is for the sale of wine and packaged mixed beverages such as wine coolers.
"In all fairness, there is nothing the city can do about it," said Mayor Mike Lorentz. "If the people vote to allow the sale of alcohol, then the sale can happen."
Alcohol sales in Belpre are a relatively new occurrence as the first beer sold in the city limits was on Feb. 5, 2010 at the Napoli's restaurant on Main Street.
Since the locally owned restaurant was the first to have the approval of voters, three other businesses, the Kroger on Washington Boulevard and the Speedway stores on Farson Street and Washington Boulevard, are selling alcohol.
"Since alcohol sales began in Belpre, we haven't seen a difference in operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) or other alcohol-related arrests," Lorentz said. "We have more of a problem with drugs than we do with alcohol."
All laws in place for the purchase and consumption of alcohol, including the requirement of having to be 21 years of age to purchase, will have to be followed by Go-Mart, which sells alcohol in most of its stores throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Lorentz said he has not heard from Go-Mart about the proposed facility that will reportedly include the property that is at the former BP station on Washington Boulevard.
A message left for a representative with the company at its Gassaway, W.Va., corporate headquarters was not returned Thursday.
The last alcohol issue on the Belpre ballot was to allow Kroger the C-1 and C-2 permits in May 2010.
Belpre had been dry since Prohibition began in 1920. When it was repealed by Congress in 1933, the citizens of Belpre chose to keep the city dry.