New restaurants interested in key growth areas in Johnson County are looking elsewhere because of state rules that limit how many establishments can serve alcohol.

In both Bargersville and Greenwood, no more permits can be issued to allow restaurants to sell beer, wine and liquor — the most desired permits.

That has led some restaurants, including high-end places, to look elsewhere, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.

But a piece of legislation being considered at the statehouse could change that, allowing more permits to be issued in growing areas. The proposal would allow five more permits to be issued in Bargersville and up to 20 in Greenwood. The legislation was recently given initial approval by a Senate committee and will be considered again next week.

Under state law, communities are allowed a certain number of alcohol sales permits based on population. The permits allow restaurants to sell beer, beer and wine, or beer, wine and liquor. The licenses allowing beer, wine and liquor to be sold are the most popular.

In Greenwood, a total of 34 of those permits can be issued, and all of them are taken. In Bargersville, three permits are allowed, and all those have been issued as well, according to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

That has been a concern in Greenwood, especially as the city looks to redevelop downtown, Myers said. Multiple restaurants he has tried to recruit to the area have raised concerns about the lack of permits, he said. The same has been true for undeveloped areas along State Road 135, he said.

“It is a deterrent from them coming here,” Myers said.

Allowing more permits to be issued will promote economic development, said State Sen. Jack Sandlin, a Republican who represents parts of Johnson County and introduced the legislation.

The issue was first brought to Sandlin’s attention by Myers, but as he talked with other state lawmakers, he learned other communities were facing the same issues. So he also included Bargersville, Martinsville and Munster in his proposal, he said.

The proposal allows those communities to have additional alcohol licenses in key development or redevelopment areas. For Greenwood, that includes downtown and the area along State Road 135.

Greenwood has a great opportunity for development with its vision for the downtown area, and the area along State Road 135 is also a key growth area, Sandlin said. Not having enough permits for restaurants is a problem, especially with the city courting high-end restaurants to open in those areas, Sandlin said.

State lawmakers approved similar legislation in 2016 for development in Noblesville, Westfield, Whitestown and Zionsville, and that has made a big difference in promoting development of those communities, he said. Visitors who come to restaurants can also stop at other shops and businesses, and residents have more options within their community, he said.

The permits would be tied to those areas, and could not be transferred elsewhere, he said. The initial cost of the permits is $40,000, which is a cost that the business is responsible for, Sandlin said.

If the proposal gets final approval from the Senate committee next week, it would then be transferred to the House for consideration, Sandlin said.

By the numbers

Here is a look at how many permits are available for restaurants and bars in local communities, and how many are issued:

Bargersville

  • Beer
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 3
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 3
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 3

Edinburgh

  • Beer
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 1
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 4

Franklin

  • Beer
  • Available: 16
  • Issued: 11
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 16
  • Issued: 9
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 16
  • Issued: 16

Greenwood

  • Beer
  • Available: 34
  • Issued: 2
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 34
  • Issued: 21
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 34
  • Issued: 34

New Whiteland

  • Beer
  • Available: 4
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 4
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 4
  • Issued: 1

Prince’s Lakes

  • Beer
  • Available: 1
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 1
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 1
  • Issued: 0

Trafalgar

  • Beer
  • Available: 1
  • Issued: 1
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 1
  • Issued: 1
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 1
  • Issued: 0

Whiteland

  • Beer
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer and wine
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 0
  • Beer, wine and liquor
  • Available: 3
  • Issued: 1

SOURCE: Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.