Why Charlotte’s plan for social neighborhoods is on hold
Originally, on June 27, the Charlotte City Council was supposed to review the social district ordinance, but it is now on hiatus.
CHARLOTTE, NC – Social neighborhoods are springing up in the Charlotte area. This allows cities to establish a zone where people can carry alcohol outside on permitted streets and in parks, but the City of Charlotte has not yet implemented one.
WCNC Charlotte’s Lexi Wilson learned that the city has no plans yet to create social neighborhoods, although it plans to pass a policy to allow them.
Initially, on June 27, Charlotte City Council was supposed to review the social district ordinance, but now it’s on hiatus.
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“Based on concerns raised in discussions with council members and raised by community members as well as the complexity of managing multiple social neighborhoods, which share boundaries with residential neighborhoods or are in close proximity to residential accommodations, we are removing this item from the June 27, 2022 meeting agenda to allow staff more time to respond to concerns and questions,” a note from the city manager’s office bed.
“We were hoping it would pass this summer,” said small business attorney Russell Furgusson. Plaza Midwood Merchants Association, said. “It seems to me that I may have thought about it a little too much, I don’t think it’s going to befall us, this New Orleans style drinking on the street, the Mardi Gras festival.”
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Furgusson is also his wife’s partner in Dish, a southern comfort food restaurant in Plaza Midwood. He hoped that small businesses would benefit from the social district, sooner rather than later.
“After so many years of struggling with COVID, all the flexible changes we’ve had to make to our business plan and postpone this again is really disheartening,” Furgusson said. “It’s not like we’re the first to come out on this — it’s been done statewide.”
According to the memo, “a new council will be sworn in on September 6, at which time a new council could provide additional direction on the city’s priorities, including social neighborhoods.”
Currently, the state is also working on changes to the law that authorizes social districts.
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Laws governing social districts also received significant improvements in the Senate this week with new language included in HB 211 Clarification of Social Quarters/Common Areas. According a summary Prepared by state legislative staff, the eight-page bill would re-codify and revise the statutes of social districts put in place last year, creating more uniformity and clarity about the geographic areas that can be included in the districts.
Social neighborhoods are outdoor spaces in cities where people can freely consume and transport alcoholic beverages sold by licensed vendors in the neighborhood. Municipal councils pass ordinances to establish districts, while state ABC laws regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol in the district.
The new wording of the bill adopted by the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday touched on some of the challenges cities face when setting up their first social neighborhoods. The The Senate Rules Committee will then hear the bill.
A spokesperson for the city of charlotte said it will likely influence how the city proceeds.