FROM STAFF REPORTS
Mooresville town commissioners gave preliminary approval on Monday to the establishment of a Downtown Social District.
Under the criteria tentatively approved Monday, permitted establishments could sell alcoholic beverages in designated cups that could be consumed anywhere within the district between 12 noon and 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The proposal passed by a 5-1 vote with Commissioner Thurman Houston casting the lone dissenting vote.
Houston, who said he felt like the proposal had been “pushed down this throat,” said that allowing open containers of alcohol on public streets and sidewalks would be detrimental to the character of the town.
“I’ll never change my values,” he said. “I don’t agree with that for a family-oriented town.”
Commissioners could change the criteria for the district when the matter comes up for a final vote at the June 6 meeting.
The Mooresville Downtown Commission asked the town board to create the district, which was authorized by the N.C. General Assembly in 2021. The MDC requested that to-go alcohol sales be allowed between 10 a.m. and midnight.
MDC Executive Director Kim Atkins told the board on Monday that the district would generate additional revenue for restaurants, bars and retail shops in the downtown area by making it a destination area.
Atkins said she was sensitive to Commissioner Houston’s concerns. But the town has not had any issues with disorderly conduct or public intoxication at special downtown events where open containers of alcohol have been allowed since 2009, she told the board.
“I honestly do not believe we are going to see mobs of people standing on the street drinking,” Atkins said. ” I don’t think it’s going to be the Wild Wild West.”
Nearly a dozen downtown restaurant, bar and business owners asked the board to establish the social district, saying that it would be a boost for businesses that are still recovering from COVID-19. The bars work together to ensure that customers who are intoxicated are not served additional drinks and will work to ensure there are no issues, they said.
Only one resident spoke against the establishment of the social district.
Initially, Commissioner Bobby Compton proposed adopting the 10 a.m. to midnight hours proposed by the MDC, but after commissioners Gary West, Lisa Qualls and Eddie Dingler expressed some reservations, Compton revised his motion to limit the hours to 12 noon to 10 a.m.
If the proposal wins final approval at the June 6 meeting, commissioners would review it in six months to ensure there are no problems. They could also extend the hours at that time.
Qualls stressed that commissioners would “stop it in a hot minute” if it’s not working.