By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY – Downtown Salisbury, Inc. will be hosting a number of public consultation sessions this month on a project for a downtown social district for public drinking before presenting it to City Council.
A social neighborhood would allow consumers to buy alcohol from state-approved businesses and restaurants and walk around the designated neighborhood with specially marked mugs. The ability of municipalities to implement such a district comes from legislation passed by the General Assembly in last year’s legislative session, Bill 890. Senator Carl Ford, a Republican representing District 33, was the only lawmaker representing Rowan County to vote against the legislation. .
Kannapolis was among the first cities in North Carolina to take advantage of the new law. The city began allowing consumers to take alcoholic beverages outside participating businesses and restaurants in October after council approval. The Kannapolis neighborhood includes portions of West Avenue, Oak Avenue, Vance Street, Laureate Way, Cannon Baller Way, West B Street and Main Street.
DSI Director Sada Stewart Troutman said people see Salisbury as a place to visit, shop and eat in addition to a place to live and work.
“This is the opportunity to make Salisbury a downtown destination,” she said. “I think it gives the opportunity for people to come and enjoy a whole Saturday or a whole weekend in Salisbury where they can enjoy several shops, spend the night, walk around, enjoy the park while tasting wine – rather than coming for a single store, then coming home or coming for a single restaurant, then coming home.
DSI board member Samantha Haspel told the Post that the organization started talking about the idea before the new state law and even considered traveling to Raleigh to defend it. In October, after its passage, city attorney Graham Corriher briefed council members on the social quarter’s legal warnings and said the city and the DSI were exploring how to put one in Salisbury.
“We believe that with what is happening in Salisbury town center between the park, the Empire (hotel) and many other things, this is a real opportunity to boost economic vitality, to increase tourism, ”Haspel told the Post. “It also makes it easier for DSI to organize downtown events, like art walks and things like that, without having to go through the same permissions that were previously required. “
Haspel said the district can encourage more businesses to open and expand with the opportunity, adding that it is also a way to “keep everyone in business if things go wrong again” with the pandemic. of COVID-19.
Haspel led the charge to form the Salisbury Town Center Social District Task Force, a subcommittee of DSI. Members include Haspel, Stewart Troutman, Bob Potter, owner of Salisbury Wine Shop, Cheryl Goins, owner of Pottery 101, Elaine Spalding, chair of the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, Gianni Moscardini, chair of the board of directors of DSI, Gianni Moscardini, owner of Skinny Wheels Bike Shop, Eric Phillips and Megan Canavan, a former assistant general manager from Powell, Ohio.
Canvan helped the Town of Powell set up a social neighborhood about a year and a half ago.
Haspel and Stewart Troutman said they anticipate community members will have questions and concerns. That’s why DSI is holding five public engagement sessions throughout January before presenting the proposal to city council in February.
Prior to its Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting on January 26, which will take place in person and virtually at City Hall at 8:30 am, DSI will host a “Bars and Restaurants” session on January 11 at 3:00 pm at New Sarum Brewing on North Lee Street. Following this meeting, there will be a “Business, Arts and Culture Groups” session at 5:00 pm at 215 Depot Street under the Lobby.
The planned community engagement sessions are as follows:
• Friday at 8:30 am, virtual. Use the link us02web.zoom.us/j/88327750435 to agree.
• Tuesday, January 18 at 11:30 am, in person at 130 S. Main St., the former Wells Fargo bank building.
• Wednesday January 19 at 5:30 pm, in person at Mean Mug Coffee on North Main Street.
• Thursday January 20 at 5.30 p.m., virtual. Use the link us02web.zoom.us/j/82999892045 to agree.
Stewart Troutman said task force members spoke with other communities that have established social districts, with no real concerns about an increase in crime.
“We want to allay fears that this is inviting rude behavior,” said Stewart Troutman. “This (law) comes with very strict requirements to make it a safe environment.”
State legislation authorizing the social district includes certain requirements for its establishment, including a map, the days and times of alcohol consumption throughout the district, signage indicating its location, and a management and maintenance plan. .
In addition, special cups with the logo of the special district, the name of the company or restaurant that supplied the alcohol and a statement discouraging the consumption of alcohol by minors are required. Cups couldn’t exceed 16 ounces of alcohol, and customers couldn’t walk into a new participating business with alcohol still in the cup. Drinks should be discarded before leaving the neighborhood.
“It’s not supposed to be Mardi Gras in Salisbury town center,” Haspel said. “It’s not what we imagine it will look like. It’s not what it looks like in Kannapolis.
The days and times for the district have yet to be established, but Haspel and Stewart Troutman say a number of traders have suggested starting earlier than evening so they can participate. While DSI will propose to include the entire City Service District – the area officially designated as the city center – city council members can choose to scale down and start small. If so, Haspel said DSI has other proposals.
The City Service District includes areas along North Jackson, East Cemetery, West Horah, and North Long Streets, as well as parts of South Main, South Church, East Kerr, East Council, and North Lee Streets.
Hickory, Greensboro, and Norwood are other cities in North Carolina that have established social districts. Others, like Wilmington and Charlotte, are also exploring the idea.
“No law changes,” Haspel said. “The only difference is where you can stand when you drink that glass. “
For more information visit Downtownsalisburync.com/socialdistrict/ or dial 704-637-7814.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.