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Herald editorial: Bubble, bubble … brewpubs in Provo are in trouble

By Daily Herald Editorial Board - | Feb 23, 2020

The brewpub debate continues to bubble in Provo, after a council vote that approved a land use amendment on Tuesday and a subsequent

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi issued a statement Friday stating that “while I recognize there are two sides to the present issue, mostly I’m feeling grateful that underneath it all is this impressive concern for the fabric of our community, one that is so uniquely special to my neighbors and me.”

Impressive concern?

We’re not so sure “impressive” is the appropriate label for this heated and hotly debated issue.

Since when are residents of Utah County in support of greater government intervention and interruption in private business and capitalism?

Not only that, but many opponents are citing words accompanying every ordinance and insist every single thing the city passes should “… further the health, safety and welfare of the city of Provo.” It’s a noble threshold to aim for.

But our question is why are select members of the community so threatened by this beer “fad” that apparently threatens to usher the city’s downfall?

If restaurants with brewpubs have to face this singular scrutiny, why not all restaurants that serve liquor? Provo has plenty of those already. Or vape and tobacco shops that exist within city boundaries? What about grocery stores that feature entire aisles of sugary processed cereal? Or restaurants serving up ice cream to the growing obese and diabetic? That doesn’t further residents’ health and welfare, but we haven’t heard anyone campaigning against ice cream, have we?

That’s because ice cream isn’t against one religion’s code of conduct. And some believe, despite the city being comprised of residents of many diverse faiths, that everyone should be subjected to legislation upholding the morals of the majority faith.

Like most conservatives, we think government shouldn’t be in the business of adding more and more regulations to businesses. Let the market forces decide if Provo is ready to have a “trendy” brewpub. Chances are they will. Heck, even our smaller, conservative neighbor to the south — Springville — seemed to have no problem rolling out the welcome wagon for brewpubs in their town. Lehi, too. After all, brewpubs are hardly a new and groundbreaking concept in Utah.

However, we think it’s a dangerous line to walk when politicians want to start telling restaurants and business one is healthier or more moral than another. What makes a restaurant serving California wine with pasta less evil than a brewpub serving a burger with locally brewed beer?

Let those adults who want to legally partake, partake. And those that don’t want to? They don’t have to. But so far, there seems to be plenty of Provo residents who have never minded that their favorite restaurants already carry the “evils” of select beer and wine on their menus for locals and visitors who do choose to imbibe enjoy after a long day or in celebration with friends or family.

Utahns have used many referendums in the last two years to voice their like or dislike for an issue, be it medical marijuana, the Medicaid expansion, the state tax overhaul or others.

And residents in Provo will no doubt come out to vote and share their opinion on this development issue as well.

The issue has already gained stronger legs than similar brewing proposals in the past that never even made it to the council agenda based off of personal moral agendas.

We agree it’s better to have these discussions out in the open in the community, and not shut down behind closed doors, as they have occurred in the past.

Provo is a unique place; no one wants to challenge or change that. We just don’t think accepting brewpubs in specific areas of the city is going to jeopardize that. If it did, that’s another set of problems that probably need greater attention.


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