Thursday, May 23, 2024

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Business group wants city to add social drinking district for downtown


Mebane’s city council was urged this week to pursue a social drinking district – joining Elon and Burlington as county municipalities with such districts.

Barbara Hollerand, who serves as the Mebane Downtown Development Corporation executive director, made the presentation to the city council, saying that the idea had “overwhelmingly strong support” among downtown businesses.

Mebane Downtown Development Corporation executive director Barbara Hollerand

The plan she presented urged the establishment of a district that would encompass 12 downtown bars and restaurants: 2 Twelve Seasonal Kitchen & Bar, Bright Penny Brewing, Clay Street Tavern, Crafted: The Art of the Taco, Go Girl Shoppe, Hyperion Bar & Lounge, Junction on 70, Martinho’s Bakery & Deli,  Stumblin’ Pig, Trackside Bottle Shop, Whiskey Sowers, and Wooden Nickel.

Hollerand said that businesses had relied a good deal on Burlington’s experience and format in order to craft their proposal.

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However, the proposal she presented for Mebane includes twice as many days (four, Thursday through Sunday) while Burlington’s has two (Friday and Saturday).  The operating hours are also an hour longer each day (proposed to begin at 11:00 a.m. in Mebane, while Burlington’s social drinking district hours begin at noon).

Under the rules that the state laid out, eligible “ABC permittees” within each municipality’s district can dispense beer, wine, or mixed drinks in specially-marked cups that are intended for off-premises consumption.

Each council must set operating hours and geographic boundaries.

[Story continues below map of proposed social drinking district in downtown Mebane.]

Green lines denote proposed streets for social drinking district in downtown Mebane.

Customers may take these cups outside during particular hours set by the council, provided that they remain within the confines of the district. They can even tote the drinks into businesses that don’t serve alcohol as long as the owners of these businesses have given their clearance.

Signs indicating whether alcoholic beverages are welcome or not would be posted by each business.

Drinkers may not take their beverages to a car or beyond the district boundaries.

Hollerand described the idea as a potential economic spark for small businesses in the downtown.

Hollerand’s presentation listed one unknown as the costs for additional police foot patrols during social drinking district hours.

But city manager Chris Rollins said the city did not anticipate any increased staff or increased expense for the implementation of a social district.

Hollerand, who is about to leave her post, said she hoped the issue would recur on the council’s May agenda when a future public hearing could be set on the possibility of establishing the district. The council members would also have to set the parameters for both hours and days, either confirming those requested or setting their own.

Below are the ABC permittees in each local municipality, as well as those proposed for Mebane.

See also the newspaper’s editorial page opinion about the proposal: Social drinking district could spread to Mebane, where it would be a particularly bad idea, tarnish the atmosphere of downtown:

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