The Blanding City Council has denied an effort by local businessmen to lift the city's 53-year-old ban on the sale of beer.

After a lengthy meeting Wednesday night in packed council chambers, the council voted 3-2 to keep the ban and added a provision that it could not be lifted without a vote by city residents.Keith Black, owner of the Pronto Convenience Store, told the City Council that business leaders felt the sale of beer was necessary to develop tourism as a viable industry.

Black, who also is chairman of the Chamber of Commerce business committee, said an ordinance ought to be drafted with tight controls and penalties to be submitted to a referendum vote by city residents before final approval.

But when Councilman Kay Johnson proposed drafting such an ordinance, the proposal went down to defeat.

City Attorney Craig Halls said the provision requiring a vote to remove the ban may be illegal if it is viewed as handing over legislative responsibility to voters. He said it would be reviewed further.

During public discussion, Calvin Black, chairman of San Juan County Commission and owner of a motel and several other Blanding businesses, told the council he was prepared to make $500,000 in improvements to his motel and restaurant if the city would approve the sale of beer.