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Council delays vote on Town Common liquor


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A vote on whether to allow the sale of liquor on the Town Common was postponed Monday after the Greenville City Council decided to seek more public input on the matter. 

The council was scheduled to vote on an ordinance that would allow for the sale and consumption of liquor and fortified wine in the city’s major park during events that acquired city permits to do so. 

On Aug. 9, the council received a presentation by city staff regarding the creation of an ordinance. Following the presentation, the council unanimously directed staff to draft one for review and a possible vote.

The discussion was first requested by District 3 Councilman Will Bell, who said he believed allowing for the change would be beneficial to bringing larger events to Greenville, as well as offering more entertainment options for residents.

On Monday night, Bell said he wanted city staff to formerly seek public input regarding the matter based on concerns he had heard from residents.

“Just based on the amount of emails I’ve received, it’s obviously touched some folks deeply,” he said. “I know the Reflector ran a poll on it and it seemed like it has a large amount of approval; but I still think it would be wise to seek some pubic input.”  

Since discussion regarding the ordinance first began, no members of the community have spoken about the ordinance during any of the the meeting’s public comment periods. 

According to a staff presentation by Assistant City Manager Micheal Cowin, state law would allow for a one-time permit to be issued to organizations renting the park. Cowin said many other cities in North Carolina have a similar permitting process.

Other restrictions imposed on the permit could include a designated alcohol zone, a cutoff of 10 p.m. and a minimum number of police officers to be hired for the alcohol area.

City Council unanimously approved to delay the motion until its November meetings, during which city could would present the findings of its public input process.

The vote follows implementation of a similar ordinance that allowed for the sale of wine and beer during events at the park. Several events including PirateFest and a weekday summer concert series have used the ordinance to sell beer and allow drinking in large areas of the park with security measures in place.

Many events on the common, including the popular Sunday in the Park series and the city’s annual July 4 celebration, did not allow sale and consumption in the park.

The council passed a trial beer ordinance in March 2017 that expired in December. The board in January put a slightly modified ordinance into effect with no sunset clause to allow event promoters to seek permits for beer and wine sales.

Contact Seth Gulledge at 252-329-9579 and sgulledge@reflector.com