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Wine petitioners meet threshold

Mitchell's sidewalk wine debate will go to voters. Petitions referring the sidewalk wine ordinance to a public vote were turned in Tuesday and verified as having enough signatures Wednesday. The ordinance, if upheld by voters, would allow wine service at sidewalk cafes downtown.

Petitioners needed 5 percent of registered city voters, or 486 signatures, to force the ordinance to a public vote. There were 587 valid signatures on the petitions. The Rev. Carroll Torberson, who initiated the petition drive, estimated Tuesday when the petitions were turned in that he had almost 700 signatures. Signatures are not valid if the individual who signed the petition does not live in Mitchell, is not a registered voter or has already signed the petition.

City Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson said she has placed an item on the agenda for the next City Council meeting July 15 to have the election regarding the ordinance scheduled for June 2014, during the next regularly scheduled municipal election.

The cost to hold a special election between now and then would be $6,000, Wilson said. Ordinance 2437 would have gone into the city code by Thursday but will now be suspended pending the outcome of the election.

Petitioners had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit their petitions.

The City Council voted 5-2 for Ordinance 2437 on June 3, a variation on a similar ordinance that was rejected last spring.

The ordinance restricts sidewalk alcohol service to wine, limits service to sidewalks in the downtown area, forbids sidewalk alcohol to be served during Corn Palace Festival week and requires businesses offering sidewalk wine service to receive 50 percent of their gross receipts from food.