By Corinne Saunders | Outer Banks Voice on February 16, 2023
If town commissioners take up the idea, lawfully walking around downtown Manteo with open containers of alcohol could become a reality.
The co-owner of a Manteo wine bar gave a presentation to the Town of Manteo Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Feb. 15 about the benefits of creating a downtown “social district”—a specific area where alcoholic beverages in designated containers are permitted on the street.
Twenty-one cities and towns in North Carolina already have social districts, according to presentation documents Garret Cameron, co-owner of NouVines with his wife Lori Wilkinson, shared with commissioners. Places with social districts range from major cities like Charlotte and Raleigh to smaller towns like Selma and Sylva.
“These are a list where you can talk to your fellow commissioners,” Cameron said, noting that those locales “have already introduced this and are already working with this program and are having tremendous success.”
To create a social district, the town must determine the exact geographic area of downtown to include in the social district and file with the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, among other requirements, according to Cameron’s presentation.
While Cameron’s presentation is a preliminary step in the creation of a social district, Manteo Town Manager Melissa Dickerson said the idea is one that the Town’s Mainstreet Advisory Council has discussed, adding that officials have reached out to a local Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) agent about Cameron’s proposal. If the commissioners indicate an interest in moving forward, Dickerson explained that the town would solicit community input and present a plan to the board at a later date.
In his presentation, Cameron touted the economic benefits of a social district, asserting that in other states that have them—including Louisiana, Georgia and Nevada—as well as in North Carolina, some trends have become clear.
“Virtually every district reports an increase in both taxes and merchant revenue,” he said.
Social districts increase tourism, make the downtown area a destination, provide “a broad social and cultural experience for residents and visitors” and create revenue opportunities for existing and new bars and restaurants through offering drinks to go, according to Cameron’s presentation.
“One of the more interesting facts that I found in studying the places where this already exists…is people drink more responsibly when they are on the move versus sitting down at a bar and being static,” Cameron said. The creation of social districts in other states and in North Carolina has not spurred an increase in criminal activity, he asserted.
“In fact, in most places, they’re recording a decrease in crime because people are drinking more responsibly, and there’s more people out there,” Cameron said. He noted that when “people get stupid…they get recorded now. It’s not just the cameras that are in cities, so all of these things help.”
Cameron made his presentation following conversations he said that he and other local business owners have had with ALE officers during their recent inspections.
“A large number of us all got inspected roughly at the same time, and In every case, an ALE officer brought up this,” he said of social districts.
Cameron said an ALE officer was in downtown Manteo on New Year’s Day and told him there were people with open cups, noting “at least 2,000 infractions” the officer could have charged for related to that. In such cases, ALE charges both the individual with the open container and the business from which they bought the alcohol, he added.
“ALE has given us, what I feel, a warning,” he said.
During public comment, resident Michael Basnight called both the social district idea and the idea of connecting Manteo with other area towns like Elizabeth City and Edenton with passenger ferries—another presentation given at the meeting— “interesting” and “encouraging.”
Notice of Public Auction
The public will take notice that the Dare County Tourism Board, at its meeting of October 20, 2022, adopted Resolution 2022-5 authorizing the sale of surplus personal property by public auction.
Saturday, April 1, 2023.
6708 S. Croatan Highway
Nags Head, NC 27959
10am: Back of the House Auction – Complete Commercial Kitchen
Partial List: True refrigerators and coolers, Hatco drawer warmers, Hobart mixer, Vulcan, 6 & 10 burner gas ovens/stoves, Vulcan 2 basket gas fryer, Vulcan 2-door oven, stainless prep tables, DCS 6 burner LPAS range & oven, Hobart dishwasher, pots & pans & more.
2pm: Front of the House Auction – Selling Everything in the Building + Architectural Salvage by room
Partial List: Antique ships wheel chandelier, Nautical & pirate decor, sword & pistol displays, polyword tables & chairs, ship models, nautical lanterns, art, commercial bar equipment, tables and chairs, NC decoys, fish mounts, signal cannon, architectural salvage, Several bars, pirate bar & more.
Preview 3/31: 11 AM – 5 PM & Auction Day starting @ 9am
Online Absentee Bidding Catalog Closes: 3/31 @ 8pm
Catalog + Thousands of photos @ SSAOBX.HIBID.COM
Island Auction Co. (252)489-5513 – Jason P. Humphries, Auctioneer NCAL #8423
Visa / MC / Cash / Good Check – NC Sales Tax, 15% Buyers Premium
Dr Lynn Duffy
So for the $ the small town with a family atmosphere would yield to the $ alcohol may bring? Don’t think as a counselor, I want to take my family to a town that encourages open container and open air alcohol drinking. There is a reason for pubs, taverns and controlled events. If this town enables this, think our family and friends will go elsewhere. We don’t want our children exposed to this.
one for the road
Let’s make “one for the road” legal
Please honor and promote the OBX as a “family first” destination. A family atmosphere is what attracts vacationers to the OBX. Most families would be agreeable to the occasional sip and stroll event after 9 pm, but not all day and every day.
I’ve read some of the comments thus far. One thing stands out that the Owner of the Wine Store is all about increasing business. Don’t let him fool you about Social Connection and Coming into a new age or progress. The Wine store is small and the few other establishments selling alcohol are small or limited to Restaurant consumption. The Bar Trade in Manteo is low. I say put it up to a Town Vote. Don’t be swayed by Vacationers and non Residents.