Referendum makes it onto ballot to change Argyle's dry town status

September 23, 2019 11:28 PM

ARGYLE – There will be a referendum on the ballot in November for voters in the Town of Argyle.

NewsChannel 13 first told you back in June about a group trying to gain enough signatures for a petition to get the referendum on the ballot. Voters will have to decide if they want to turn the dry town wet. Alcohol hasn’t been sold there since 1933.


“It’s a good way to rejuvenate agriculture in a rural setting,” said Jason Lloyd who is on the Repeal Argyle Prohibition Committee.

Lloyd said one of the main reasons behind the groups push to no longer have Argyle as a dry town is the booming craft beer industry.

“Having something like a craft distillery or brewery in the area may draw that tourism and with that comes economic viability and so we're hoping that voters realize that,” said Lloyd. “If you look around here a lot of agricultural land, a lot of farm land that may otherwise not be put into production.”

According to the New York State Brewers Association, in 2018 New York’s 434 breweries have generated $3.5 billion in economic impact. For Rick Dennis, who is the co-owner of Highlander Brewing Company, the craft beer industry allows his farm to be utilized in new ways.

“We started about four years ago with the hops then we started the malt house, we grow our own barley,” said Dennis.

Dennis hopes to open a taproom onsite if voters say yes to the sale of alcohol. He said his farm will become a destination for people and will create new jobs in the community.

“We’re going to try and use as many Argyle people as we can and we realize some areas we’ll have to go out of town for, but it'll still be mostly Washington County,” said Dennis. “As long as the county prospers everyone does well.”

Those against the town no longer being dry have said they don’t want the town to become unruly and they like the uniqueness of being a dry town.

“I often tell people that history is a point of departure not a point of arrival,” said Lloyd. “It's nice to look back and be nostalgic about things, but sometimes we need to change.”

However, Dennis and Lloyd said no matter how you plan to vote you need to just make sure you show up to the polls.

“Just for the town to be able to have their own future in their own hands is exiting, we don't get a chance as voters to have an impact like this,” said Dennis.

Voters will be asked four questions regarding where alcohol can be sold.

“Restaurant, tavern, retail and wine and liquor both the restaurant and the tavern will give us the on and off site ability that we need to be able to open the taproom,” explained Dennis.  

Voters head to the polls on Nov. 5.


Emily De Vito

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