Booze is on the ballot Tuesday in the tiny town of Barrington in Yates County. The 920 registered voters in Barrington will decide, in three separate ballot proposals, whether to allow alcohol sales in taverns, restaurants and year-round hotels.
BARRINGTON -- Booze is on the ballot Tuesday in the tiny town of Barrington in Yates County.
The township is currently one of only a handful left in New York State that is partially dry, meaning establishments can only sell beer to-go. The 920 registered voters in Barrington will decide, in three separate ballot proposals, whether to allow alcohol sales in taverns, restaurants and year-round hotels.
Currently, the only business impacted by the decision is The Olney Place, a sandwich shop and market along East Lake Road on the shore of Keuka Lake. "It's the one spot for 20 miles to buy a beer and a stick of butter, use the rest room... to provide a cultural epicenter in a place that often lacks it,” says owner Seth Olney.
For the past decade, The Olney Place has had a liquor license to sell beer for take-out and to be consumed on the premises. “The hitch came when we expanded, we never had any issues previously,” Olney says.
Turns out, he never should have gotten the license for customers to be able to drink inside the establishment in the first place. The state and the town somehow overlooked a 50-year old local law which prohibits it. The town took issue with his expansion and when the state liquor authority realized the error it told Olney. "We can't knowingly expand an existing license in a town that is dry but go back, form this referendum and get this on the ballot, get this taken care of and that's kind of where we are today leading into tomorrow,” he says.
So, that’s what he has done. On Tuesday, voters in Barrington will decide how to move forward. The local law is something most people who live in the town, didn’t even know about. “I’ve lived in Barrington since I was born,” says Jack Strickland adding, “I do not know about this until the town got upset about Olneys.”
There are still eight towns in New York State that are completely dry, meaning you can’t buy booze or consume it in public. They are: Caneadea in Allegany County, Clymerin in Chautauqua County, Lapeer in Cortland County, Orwell in Oswego County, Fremont in Steuben County, Jasper in Steuben County, Berkshire in Tioga County and Argyle in Washington County.
Currently, 37 towns in New York State are considered “semi-dry.” Locally, the towns of Butler and Rose in Wayne County, Pike and Wethersfield in Wyoming County and Middlesex in Yates County are “wet” for off-premises consumption and “dry” for on-premises consumption. Barrington in Yates County and Orangeville in Wyoming County are “wet” for off-premises consumption and “wet” for on-premises sale by hotel only.
In Barrington, voters are letting their stance be known with lawn signs, hats and the sharing of plenty of public opinions, “I’m voting yes to all three, you should be able to (sell and consume) especially with the business climate we’ve got nowadays,” Strickland says.
Olney has been pushing hard for passage. "A simple victory is all we need but I am pressing for essentially a mandate to send a signal to other businesses that may be interested in coming to the Keuka Lake area, to the naysayers to let them know that there is a silent majority that is no longer willing to be silent and to set the tune for where we're going in Barrington, moving forward as a region, as a whole,” he says.