Greenville City Hall

Significant population changes in two of Greenville’s five election districts will have to be balanced as leaders begin a delayed redistricting process.

Greenville City Council has directed staff to explore the creation of a downtown district where outdoor drinking is allowed during special events. The council also adopted its new voter district map during its Monday meeting.

Councilman Will Bell proposed that staff study what other North Carolina communities are doing within the confines of newly adopted legislation that changed state Alcohol Beverage Commission laws to permit social districts and expand the areas where bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol outside their buildings.

“Chief, I can see the worry in your eyes,” Bell said to Police Chief Mark Holtzman. “I did not bring this up so people will pour out on the street at 2 a.m. with a drink in hand.

“I think the whole idea behind this bill is to try and help downtown to recover after COVID and come up with safe ways to do that, so I think we should just take a look at it,” Bell said.

Assistant City Attorney Donald Phillips reviewed the highlights of the new legislation.

Social districts are outdoor areas where a person can drink alcoholic beverages sold by bars, nightclubs and distilleries holding an ABC permit. The city is responsible for enforcing laws in the district.

Phillips said businesses must be in the social district area or contiguous to the area to permit patrons to take alcohol outside its licensed premises.

Districts must have clearly defined hours and the city must post signs with the “required statutory provision,” along with other requirements.

Only certain types of non-glass containers holding no more than 16 ounces can be sold by establishments. The containers have the business’ logo and must display in no less than 12-point font “Drink Responsibility — Be 21.”

People can’t take beverages purchased from one business into another or outside the social district. A person must either finish drinking or pour out their beverage before leaving the district.

The rules allow cities to authorize a business to use an area that isn’t part of its licensed premises for outdoor possession or consumption of alcohol, such as parking lot.

At least one city has created a social district next to a ballfield, Phillips said. The cities of Wilmington and Asheville and town of Newton are also exploring the options.

Phillips said articles he has read about Wilmington show the community is asking if a social district should be allowed only in the downtown area or other locations in the city.

Greenville council members asked if an ordinance could be written permitting a social district for limited events such as Freeboot Friday, PirateFest or East Carolina University’s homecoming. Phillips said yes.


“Nobody envisions this being a midnight to 2 clock event,” Councilman Rick Smiley said. “The idea is we would like 5 to 9 on certain weeks we’d like to make a more shared experience or a festival type atmosphere.”

In his motion, which Smiley seconded, Bell recommended staff have small breakout sessions with council members to determine what would be the best way to proceed with a new ordinance.

Redistricting

No members of the public spoke for or against Greenville City Council’s new voter district map during Monday’s meeting.

The adopted plan, identified as Option B2, preserves the shape of existing districts and uses geographic features, streets and landmarks to help define district boundaries.

During the mapmaking process, changes to the boundaries in District 1 and 2 resulted in the need to modify the boundaries of District 2 and 5, an area bordered by Southwest Greenville Boulevard, U.S. 264 Alternate and Davenport Farm Road, to ensure the populations of each district were balanced.

Option B2 was the best option for keeping adjacent subdivisions grouped together and the populations as equal as possible, officials said. The map also keeps the sitting council members in their existing districts.

The map and a resolution identifying which census blocks are in each district, will now be submitted to the Pitt County Board of Elections. It will be the voter district map used when the Greenville City Council holds its delayed elections on March 8.

Property sale

The council gave staff the authority to finalize the sale of the Hammock Lot to a hotel developer and other actions required to finalize the deal.

The agreement to finalize the sale of parcels 421 and 423 Evans St. should be finalized by Dec. 9. The city will receive $203,000 from Greenville Ventures for the property, where it plans to build a 100-room hotel.

Other parts of the agreement that also must be finalized include a lease for parking spaces, release of city easements and other contracts.

The hotel sale was one of several actions approved during the council’s consent agenda vote. The other actions included:

  • A request to apply for a $272,432 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase 30 firefighter self-contained breathing apparatus units to replace units that are older than 10 years old and can’t be repaired. If the grant is approved, the city will fund a $20,270 match.
  • The replacement of three ambulances for $1.12 million.
  • A $1.15 million contract to purchase, install and maintain 180 radios for fire-rescue personnel.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.