BEULAVILLE — In the two years since Beulaville residents voted in favor of establishing an ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Service) liquor store in the small town, the Board of Commissioners and other town officials have been working diligently to make the idea a reality, said Mayor Hutch Jones.

“I feel like we have methodically gotten to where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of questions from the public about what is taking so long, but it is a thorough process through the state. We are beginning to develop a budget and have had a feasibility study. The board is working through that now.”

The creation of an ABC store in Beulaville is part of a strategic economic development plan, the mayor explained. The town board proposed in 2019 that alcohol sales be placed on the municipal election ballot. Three items related to alcohol sales within town limits were approved by voters: 59.05% voted in favor of establishing an ABC store, 59.41% voted in favor of allowing malt beverage sales inside restaurants, and 58.08% voted to allow mixed beverage sales in restaurants.

Jones said that liquor sales are just one of several revenue streams that municipalities can use to fund parks, fire services, law enforcement and other needed town services. “We have talked about different things we can do to increase the town’s revenue, and alcohol sales are a good way to do that,” he added.

In addition, the sales tax from alcohol and liquor sales would also help to bolster the town’s coffers. “Over the past few years, Beulaville has seen a dramatic increase in sales tax revenue,” Jones said. “An ABC store would be a great way to continue that increase.”

That sales tax increase is due in large part to the heavy traffic that comes through Beulaville via NC Highway 24, or Main Street. In all likelihood, the Highway 24/Main Street corridor is where the new ABC store will be located, Jones said, though a specific site has not yet been identified.

“Our feasibility study indicated that signage or a location on Highway 24 would be the best place for it,” he added. “However, any speculation about spots or locations is just that at this point — speculation.”

As far as feedback from the public since the 2019 election, Jones said that there has been no formal communication either for or against the ABC store, though he and the town commissioners occasionally hear from residents that are either for or against liquor sales, just as part of regular conversation.

“The people of Beulaville have voted,” he said, “so we need to keep moving forward, and that’s what we are doing.”

Although alcohol sales in restaurants were also approved in the 2019 election, so far only two restaurants have applied for and received the required permit — Taquiera and La Vera Curzana.

For more information on alcohol sales and other town business, contact Town Hall at 910-298-4647.

The Beulaville Board of Commissioners meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m., and residents are always welcome to attend.

Duplin Times may be reached at duplinnews@ncweeklies.com