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City of Charlotte holds meeting for public comment on social districts

Charlotte City Council is expected to formally vote on the topic Aug. 22.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte is getting closer to creating social districts, where people can drink in the streets within designated boundaries.

Charlotte City Council held a meeting for public comment on the topic Monday. A formal ordinance hasn't been passed yet, but a handful of Charlotte businesses and associations have expressed interest in establishing social districts.

"We’re in support of creating a social district in the Plaza Midwood area and NoDa to support our small businesses,” Clifton Castelloe with the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association told City Council Monday night. 

The city of Charlotte could have multiple districts where people can sip and stroll. Each individual neighborhood would have to take the initiative and put forth a proposal to be considered by city council.

“It feels right to come to a neighborhood like NoDa, Plaza Midwood, even South End where people go to a restaurant, but they expect to stop into a shop where they can buy art or stop into our place where they can buy sangria," NoDa Company Store co-owner Joey Hewell told WCNC Charlotte

The owners of NoDa Company Store said a social district would be good for business, attract tourists, and encourage residents to spend in several different local places but within certain boundaries.

“This is not walking through a neighborhood, we are walking past store fronts and restaurants," Hewell said. 

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“I don’t think there will be any more noise, any more traffic," NoDa Company Store co-owner Scott Lindsley said. "The social districts by definition of the state will have a boundary and you have to clearly mark that boundary as to where it is so it won’t encroach into the residential areas."

If approved, drinks would be sold in cups labeled and approved by the city. 

Concerns were raised during the council meeting about using single-use plastic cups. Resident Nancy Pierce worried they'd hurt the local environment and worsen Charlotte's litter problem. 

"I realize using single-use disposable cups is cheap and convenient but please do what is right for the people of Charlotte," Pierce urged. "I say greenlight social districts only if single-use plastic cups are out of the picture."

Pierce proposed using reusable cups or cardboard ones instead. 

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If Charlotte gets social districts, their boundaries would be marked with signs that include days and hours when alcohol consumption is allowed. Social districts can't operate outside the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Charlotte City Council is expected to formally vote on the topic Aug. 22.

There are currently eight cities in North Carolina that have implemented social districts. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  

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