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Reader’s Forum — 1-24-14

Sidewalk Alcohol Sales In Lincolnton
Last spring, the Lincolnton City Council approved a revision to city ordinances, affecting the downtown business district. The revision reduced the distance between certain businesses and nearby churches, public or private schools, child day care, etc., reducing the distance from 300 feet to 50 feet. Following that innocent-sounding revision, the Council was approached to approve a “social club” (read — biker bar) in a downtown location that would not have been considered under the 300-foot rule. The citizens of Lincolnton dodged a potentially destructive bullet when the Council rejected the request to allow this bar. However, the distance reductions remained in effect.
The Council is now faced with another camouflaged attempt to allow additional alcohol sales and service in the downtown area. At last month’s meeting, the Council was asked to rewrite city ordinances in order to allow wine-by-the-glass sales on the sidewalk area in front of Southern Winery. However, the proposed ordinance revision is not restricted to Southern Winery. As written, it allows such sales for any current or future business, in the downtown district, possessing a valid permit from the ABC authority. If the proposed rewrite is approved, coupled with the previously approved distance revisions, the possibility of a bar opening in the downtown district is enhanced with the possibility of the business serving beer and liquor at sidewalk tables.
Council members should not allow themselves to be deceived by the pleasant thought of local citizens spending a few quiet moments sipping a glass of wine while enjoying our beautiful downtown. They must replace that view with one of people spending an hour or two sitting at sidewalk tables and consuming quantities of beer and stronger alcohol drinks. That is not the environment we should desire for our children and families who walk around our downtown area. The members of the Council should contemplate their ability to restrain the type and level of conversations, comments or behavior at such alcohol serving sidewalk areas. Define annoying, define inappropriate, define offensive to families, define obnoxious. Council members may have their own definitions, but many citizens of Lincolnton, who simply avoid such areas, will define these terms for them. Will adjacent businesses welcome the reduction of customers who cancel plans to stop and shop? Once this creeping decay eats away from the beauty that is our downtown, we will not be able to undo the damage.
The Feb. 4 Council meeting may be the last opportunity for citizens of Lincolnton to speak out on this newest attack on the charm and family friendly atmosphere of our wonderful downtown area. Pass your concerns to our City Council members.

Tom Hawk

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