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Gibsonville aldermen consider event-based social drinking district

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Gibsonville’s board of aldermen has scheduled a public hearing for next month on a potential “social district” for the downtown area.

Unlike other local social districts in Burlington and Elon, however, the Gibsonville variation was repeatedly described as “event-based.”

Rather than having regular hours when people can buy alcoholic  beverages at designated stores, bars, or restaurants, Gibsonville’s social district would be instituted for specific events in the downtown area.

So, for instance, while Elon has its daily hours for social district drinking set at 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. seven days a week, Gibsonville would have its drinking hours only in connection with individual events that would be set and approved by the board of aldermen.

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Burlington also has regular hours, although confined only to weekends (Fridays and Saturdays between 12:00 noon and 10:00 p.m).

Gibsonville’s social district would consist of both sides of Main Street from Kimber’s Restaurant (at the corner of Main and Wharton streets) to in front of the U.S. Post Office and Fidelity Bank.

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

It would include the town green and would also extend a block or more back along Lewis Street to Eugene Street.

Mayor Lenny Williams and alderman Paul Dean expressed some reservations about the concept of the social district, with Williams saying he felt there were dissident businesses that did not support the idea.

But alderwoman Irene Fanelli said, “Our businesses will suffer if we don’t have it.”

Fanelli said that businesses that don’t want to remain open during an event-based social district event, wouldn’t have to.

Businesses that do remain open during the social district events would be given window signs to display indicating whether those with alcoholic beverages were welcome in their stores or not.

People with alcoholic beverages would not be allowed to go into other businesses with alcohol for sale, nor would they be able to leave the social district, or get into their cars, with their drinks in hand.

Fanelli added, “If it turns into a mess, we don’t have to approve any more events.”

She and others pointed to Elon’s daily social district hours, saying that they feared Gibsonville would lose out if it didn’t establish its own version of a social district.

But Dean didn’t agree with the Elon comparison. “You can’t compare us to Elon,” Dean said, pointing to, among other factors, the disparate age ranges in the college town versus Gibsonville’s older population.

The aldermen will hold their hearing on the possible social district parameters at their next meeting, Monday, April 1.

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