A drive to bring liquor sales to the city of Haughton kicked off this morning with a news conference kicking off a petition drive to gain enough signatures to get the proposal on the Oct. 12 ballot.
Citizens of Haughton are being asked to sign a petition calling for an election to allow voters to approve additional alcohol sales in stores. Louisiana state law requires 25% of the registered voters to sign a petition to have an October election.
According to state law, the petition will require approximately 600 signatures of registered voters who live within the city limits of Haughton.
Haughton resident Lea Stroud, who is working with the Louisiana Economic Growth Committee on the project, was the first signiture on the petition at a press conference in Haughton this morning, was followed by Haughton Mayor Jack Hicks and Fire Chief Jiimmy Holland.
If they can get the required signatures, the proposition would go on the Oct. 12, 2019 ballot. The proposition would require a simple majority (50 percent-plus-one-vote).
In December 2018 Bossier Parish voters approved the sale of packaged liquor and liquor-by-the-drink in restaurants in the Parish, but only beer can be sold within the city limits of Haughton.
Hicks said the Sealy Co. real estate group has 85 acres inside the city limits that will be developed into a commercial area. “One area a retail grocery store or restaurant could locate is the land opposite the Pilot Truck Stop. Mark Sealy of Sealy and Company real estate group would like to recruit a grocery store and restaurants to the area,” he said.
“When we talk to grocery store retailers or restaurant groups, one of the first questions they ask is the property ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ for alcohol sales,” Hicks said. “When we tell them ‘dry’ or has beer only sales, they typically say no and look elsewhere. We would like to bring a store to Haughton and changing the law will help.”
According to the Business Research Center at Southeastern Louisiana University, Haughton is losing more than $12.2 million dollars annually, in local sales to neighboring communities due to the lack of retailers and restaurants that sell alcohol.
“When people drive out of town to purchase groceries or go out to eat, Haughton loses more than $12 million dollars in sales, and valuable tax revenues and jobs. Those tax monies could be used by city leaders to repair roads, support law enforcement, parks and libraries,” Hicks said.
Without grocery stores, Haughton residents must travel to Shreveport or to other Bossier Parish locations to purchase groceries and alcohol and the town loses local tax revenue and sales.
“People in Haughton tell me all the time they really want more sit-down restaurants here. Alcohol sales in restaurant can be as much as 25% of the revenue, so not being able to sell alcohol, limits our ability to recruit quality restaurant to Haughton,” Stroud said.