By Outer Banks Voice on July 7, 2017
One week after the N.C. General Assembly passed a law that lets local governments decide to allow Sunday morning alcohol sales in their jurisdictions, Nags Head could have become the first municipality here to grant its approval.
But on a 3-2 vote, Nags Head commissioners turned down a proposal on Wednesday to let Sunday booze sales at restaurants and stores move from noon to 10 a.m., then voted in a special session Friday by the same margin to postpone a decision until July 19 and include a public hearing.
Mayor Bob Edwards and commissioners John Ratzenberger and Marvin Demers voted in the majority both times. Mayor Pro Tem Susie Walters and Commissioner Renee Cahoon cast the other two votes.
In tense exchanges Friday, the two sides clashed on whether sufficient public notice was provided for the special meeting, although Town Attorney John Leidy was consulted beforehand on how to proceed.
On Wednesday, Leidy had advised commissioners that they could act on the local provisions of SL 2017-87 and NCGS 160A-205.3 at any time. But a motion to adopt the ordinance failed 3-2, as did a motion to hold a special meeting Friday.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Walters exercised her powers under the town’s charter to call for Friday’s special session. A public notice was subsequently sent out.
Edwards and Walters traded sharp exchanges in e-mails between the meetings.
“I have made my decision which I believe to be in the best interest of our entire community,” Walters wrote. “I have hand delivered the appropriate written notice with my signature to the town clerk. We must agree to disagree on this matter as a public hearing is not required.”
In response, Edwards wrote: “Of course a public hearing is not required but sufficient public notice is certainly the best approach and the more input we get the better we serve all of the Town and not one interest group. I will be at the meeting but I am not proud to be conducting Town business in this manner.”
On Friday, Walters said more than 50 businesses would be affected by the new law and would lose significant sales because of the two-week delay. She added that they employ hundreds of local workers who also would lose additional income.
Ratzenberger said that Dare and Currituck counties had scheduled votes for the middle of the month, so Nags Head was not outside the norm for considering the new rule.
The board then voted 3 to 2 to reconvene July 19 for a public hearing and vote on the issue.
Along with licensed restaurants, retail beer and wine sales at grocery and convenience stores will be allowed at 10 a.m. under the new law, but ABC Stores will remain closed on Sundays.
Kill Devil Hills commissioners and Kitty Hawk councilors may be next to vote on the change at their meeting on Monday, Manteo’s town commissioners have put it on their agenda for Wednesday, while Dare and Currituck commissioners plan to discuss it at their July 17 meetings, and Duck town councilors on July 19.
Southern Shores leaders have not said when they will make a decision.
Carrboro became the first municipality in North Carolina to approve the change on Monday, while Raleigh, Atlantic Beach and Surf City quickly followed on Wednesday.