MCADENVILLE, N.C. -- Voters in McAdenville gave a solid thumbs up to alcohol sales on Tuesday.
In unofficial results, all three issues in the referendum – the sale of beer, unfortified wine and mixed drinks -– passed.
Election officials said 53 percent of the 405 registered voters turned out. The sale of beer passed 199 to 98; wine 119 to 98; and mixed drinks 117 to 100.
Although Gaston County is dry, Gastonia and the other towns have some form of alcohol sales with the exception of McAdenville, Ranlo and Spencer Mountain.
The issue of alcohol sales was hotly contested in McAdenville -– known as Christmastown USA for its annual holiday light displays that attract thousands. Opponents said it would ruin the spirit of the town while supporters said it would boost economic development.
“I think that in a few years the people opposed to this will realize this was not such a bad thing after all,” said supporter Greg Richardson, who circulated a petition calling for a referendum. “They’ll enjoy walking to a nice restaurant. I think the division this caused will be forgotten and people will realize it was in the best interest of the town.”
Richardson didn’t think alcohol sales would “detract from the spirit of Christmastown in the least bit” and will “enhance Christmastown with new restaurants, a grocery and an economic boost.”
Former McAdenville Town Council member Gent Simmons, who first brought the issue of alcohol sales before the council, said Tuesday that the tactics used to divide the town between newcomers and longtime residents “did not work.”
“The right thing to do for business prevailed over scare tactics and fear-mongering and divisiveness,” he said.
The votes will be canvassed on Oct. 9.