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Provo • Three days after the LDS Church announced Provo would get a second Mormon temple, the city's Municipal Council legalized Sunday beer sales.
The council voted 5-1 on Tuesday to repeal the decades-long ban on beer sales, joining other cities, including nearby Springville, in permitting such commerce on Sunday. Orem, Mapleton and American Fork continue to bar suds sales on Sunday.
Provo Mayor John R. Curtis signed the new ordinance, and City Recorder Janene Weiss said it could take effect as early as this Sunday, depending on when a local newspaper publishes it.
The previous ordinance limited beer sales to 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, stores that sold beer either closed off the shelves that contained beer or barricaded those aisles.
Council members said the change was not so much about regaining beer sales-tax money lost to neighboring Springville, but about respecting rights within a diverse community.
"The early [American] settlers came here looking for religious freedom, but denied it to others," Councilwoman Laura Cabanilla said. "We don't want to do that. This is a decision based on freedom and equal rights."
Cabanilla said the council's decision was in the service of the community, just as it voted a week earlier to sell city-owned land to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near the fire-gutted Provo Tabernacle.
LDS leaders announced on Saturday that the church would restore the tabernacle and convert it into a temple.
But Councilwoman Cynthia Dayton, who cast the only dissenting vote, said restricting the days beer is sold respects the majority of Provo residents.
Provo's population is predominantly Mormon, whose faith teaches its members to eschew alcohol and discourages shopping on Sunday.
"This gives us a chance to respect ourselves and the majority of our citizens," Dayton said. She said the beer buyers have six days when they can exercise that right.
Dayton said she did support rules that brought the hours of sale into conformity with state law.
Some residents who spoke during the meeting's half-hour public portion said the city needed to keep the ban in place even if it makes Provo different.
"I want to be considered funny and quirky," said Jenny Lawton, citing the ban as one of the things she loved about Provo. "I think Sunday should be a day when we don't sell alcohol in the stores."
Judi Dayton, another resident, said people should consider stocking up on Saturday rather than pushing the city to change its laws on beer sales.
Yancee Hardy, a council candidate and an admitted alcoholic who has been sober for seven years, said Provo should stick to its guns.
"New England has its blue laws, and the South has its dry counties," Hardy said, "and I hope we maintain what we have."
The council also received literature from the Utah County Substance Misuse and Abuse Reduction Team (SMART) stating that limiting beer sales would reduce drunken driving and other social problems.
But supporters of lifting the ban said it was a matter of choice and conscience.
"We want all kinds of people to come in," said resident BJ Cluff. "But we are being exclusive [by banning beer sales on Sunday]."
She said it is unlikely that more people will die if beer is sold on Sunday.
Lois Kelson, who owns a chain of convenience stores, said the ban is bad for business and Provo's image.
"We have people coming in Sunday night for conferences and meetings on Monday, and they want to buy a beer and go back to their rooms and relax," Kelson said. "Not everybody holds the same values as everyone else."
Jason Christensen said repealing the restriction is a needed step away from over-regulating business.
"We've become a society of too many laws restricting people," Christensen said.
Council Chairman Rick Healey said the city has grown more diverse in recent years, with residents who view Saturday as a day of worship and Sunday as a day to shop and recreate.