Provo residents, including an ex-mayor, file referendum so voters can decide brewpub issue

The battle over brewpubs in Provo isn’t over.

Several residents, including a retired mayor and several former City Council members, have started a referendum so voters can decide the beer-brewing issue.

The referendum request was submitted just days after a divided council decided to allow restaurants in certain parts of Provo to brew beer on-site.

The council voted 4-3 on Tuesday for a land-use change that would allow brewpubs in two separate downtown commercial zones as well as The Shops at Riverwoods and Provo Towne Centre shopping areas.

George Stewart, a former councilman and mayor, is one of several residents who filed the referendum Thursday, according to the Daily Herald. Joining Stewart are former council members Kim Santiago, Kay Van Buren, Cindy Richards, Dave Acheson and Dave Knecht as well as community leaders Steven A. Christiansen, Sherrie L. Spencer and Paul Warner, the latter is the former executive director of the Provo Freedom Festival.

Once the city vets the referendum, the petitioners will have 45 days to gather more than 6,200 signatures to ensure that the issue is on November’s ballot.

Despite Tuesday’s vote, alcohol production was not expected to begin immediately in Provo. The city still had to adopt beer-licensing regulations before a restaurant could start brewing beer or serving thirsty customers.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi had yet to sign the council’s land-use change. On Friday, she said in a news release that she wanted residents to weigh in on the issue.

"I support the right of citizens to move ahead with that referendum, which will let their views, and those of others, be fully vetted,” she said. “And I see it as a positive that we have this path available to let citizens resolve this issue for themselves.”

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