The Cache County Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a conditional use permit to allow the Sherwood Hills Resort to apply for a state liquor license.

It would be the first liquor license issued in the unincorporated area of the county.The vote Wednesday night was 3-2 with Commission Chairman Guy Ray Pulsipher, who will be leaving on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to South Korea next week, abstaining.

Before the vote, John Rutledge, spokesman for Sherwood Hills, described the resort as "a destination rather than a place where people stop on the spur of the moment."

He said that since the resort was purchased last summer, numerous conventions and conferences have been held, but "we have lost out on others when it was learned that we did not have a liquor license.

"Many people who come to the restaurant bring their own drinks, so liquor is being consumed now in a greater quantity than it would be if we had control," he said.

Calvin Funk, who voted against the permit, said he has received more calls about the issue than any other since he's been on the board.

"People are concerned that making alcohol more accessible will mean more drinking drivers on the canyon highway, and we know that 40 to 50 percent of all highway deaths are alcohol-related," he said.

"Some people claim this will mean more tax revenues for the county, but I think there are some values that should not be sold for a tax dollar," he said.

Jay Bankhead said Sherwood Hills is an asset to the county, and, "If they have a license and do the serving themselves, they will be checking for underage drinkers and will be obligated under law not to serve to someone intoxicated."

Last year, when the County Council passed an ordinance to allow a state liquor license to be issued in the unincorporated area, it was restricted to resort-type restaurants with overnight accommodations for 100 people. The ordinance was changed later to state that each request would be approved or denied on its individual merit.

The issue would go back to the County Council only if someone appealed the decision of the Planning Commission.