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SYRACUSE — Money for a new state liquor store in Davis County was among several alcohol-related measures Utah lawmakers approved in the legislative session that ended earlier this month.
Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill last week approving $5 million for a new store in Syracuse.
Meantime, the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission received a report Tuesday showing sales at state-run liquor outlets are up 7.4 percent over a year ago.
A University of Utah study in 2013 recommended the state build 12 new liquor stores to keep up with alcohol sales and the state's growing population. The Syracuse, Clearfield and Layton area was among 12 sites around the state suggested in the study.
Sal Petilos, DABC executive director, said it would take about 12 months to 18 months to buy property and design and build the new store on a site that is beneficial to both the city and the state.
A new location in West Valley City is now in the architectural phase, and Petilos said the agency hopes to open it around Thanksgiving or Christmas.
The state builds about one new store a year, but Petilos said DABC is looking at a more "aggressive" master plan in the future.
Sales in state-operated liquor stores are up $19.7 million or 7.4 percent through February of the budget year that ends June 30, according to DABC. State liquor officials attribute the increase to mostly population growth. Alcohol revenue goes to the school lunch program and public safety.
Alcohol sales and consumption have increased 38 percent in Utah since 2005, according to the 2015 Utah Student Health and Risk Prevention Survey.
Bills clarify "troubling" issues
The Utah Legislature passed several bills this year that alcohol commission Chairman John T. Nielsen said clarified some "troubling" issues for the agency.
One of them prohibits glasses of wine or beer and mixed drinks from being sold at drive-thru windows. Stores may continue to sell 3.2 percent beer in cans or sealed packages through drive-up service as some cities allow.
Five Utah Starbucks stores, which sells coffee through drive-up windows, recently obtained a state liquor license to sell beer and wine along with food for the "Starbucks Evenings" dining program.
The bill also changes the state liquor permit formula to create more full-service and limited-service restaurant and banquet licenses. At the same time, it reduces the number of tavern and reception center permits. It also increases the fee for a limited-service restaurant license, which allows only beer and wine, from $450 to $1,275.
Another new law allows all alcohol makers to hold tastings. The state previously allowed sampling at wineries and breweries but not distilleries.