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The Suburbanite
  • Store will be first in ‘dry’ Hartville to sell liquor

  • Something very unique happened in last month’s general election. Voters in and around the western and northern portion of Hartville agreed to allow Giant Eagle to sell beer, wine and mixed beverages. It was a somewhat monumental move.

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  • Early next year, this village’s self-imposed liquor prohibition will go down the drain.
    Something very unique happened in last month’s general election. Voters in and around the western and northern portion of Hartville agreed to allow Giant Eagle to sell beer, wine and mixed beverages.
    It was a somewhat monumental move.
    The store, at 907 W. Maple St., which is state Route 619 in the heart of the commercial strip, will be the first business here to sell beverages that contain alcohol. Many other business owners had tried before and failed.  
    In the 1960s and again in the 1980s, voters rejected liquor sales in both of Hartville’s precincts. Then, in more recent years, owners of gas stations, convenience stores and a restaurant asked voters to grant them a site-specific license, which still would have kept the rest of the precinct in a “dry” status.
    Voters consistently said “no” with an exclamation point, routinely voting issues down by a 3-to-1 margin.
    Aside from sketchy approval for the sale of beer in 1938, election records indicate this town has always been dry. So dry in fact, that some locals probably assumed the village council had instituted the ban.
    “We could pass an ordinance ... but that’s not in our purview,” explained Mayor Richard Currie, who’s fielded a handful of complaints from residents and a minister worried about the new-found wetness.
    The issuing of liquor sales permits is a process governed wholly by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control.
    Locales such as Hartville are allocated a quota of permits based on population, said Matt Mullins, a spokesman for the Division of Liquor Control. All told, businesses in the village have 16 permits available to them, covering a variety of on-site and carryout sales products.
    Giant Eagle is the first to win on the ballot.
    It’s likely that recent redrawings of precinct boundaries within Stark County had an effect on the outcome of the election. Last year, the area that includes Giant Eagle (then known as Lake C) was combined with northern areas of Lake Township into what is Lake Precinct 15.
    Jeanette Mullane, deputy director of the Stark County Board of Elections, said the board was trying to reduce the number of smaller precincts. The law permits as many as 1,400 voters per precinct.
    “We combined ones that tended to have 500 or 600 voters in them,” she said.
    The effect? The county went from 364 to 284 precincts. In Hartville, more voters from outside the village, including those at Congress Lake Country Club, were melded into the precinct that includes Giant Eagle.
    Currie pointed out that although voters approved daily sales, they did turn down Sunday sales.
    “Maybe they had a conscience,” he said.