Council faces decision regarding earlier sales of alcohol on Sundays

Published 6:07 pm Friday, August 4, 2017

Washington’s City Council, during its Aug. 14 meeting, could approve the sale of alcoholic beverages beginning at 10 a.m. Sundays.

Currently, restaurants and similar establishments in the city cannot serve alcoholic beverages before noon on Sundays. City Manager Bobby Roberson and City Attorney Franz Holscher researched the new law that allows the earlier sale of alcoholic beverages — known as the “brunch bill” — on Sundays. They plan to present information about the “brunch bill” to the council Aug. 14. Since the new law took effect earlier this summer, several municipalities such as Chocowinity, New Bern, Surf City and Charlotte now allow such sales. The law also applies to counties. Last month, Hyde County began allowing earlier sales of alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

The law does not put these sales into practice directly, but rather gives individual municipalities the power to vote and adopt a measure if they choose.

At the council’s July 10 meeting, Councilman Doug Mercer questioned which establishments are included in the legislation, adding that referring to the new law as the “brunch bill” is misleading. Roberson agrees, adding that Holscher is prepared to discuss details of the law with the council.

“You’re not going to get a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Food Lion or Piggly Wiggly and buy a case of beer before noon on Sundays. It doesn’t work that way,” Roberson said Wednesday.

If the council votes Aug. 14 on whether to allow the earlier sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday, it would take a super majority of the council (two-thirds of the members present) for that to happen. If that super majority does not happen, the council would have to wait until its first meeting in September to approve such sales by a simple majority vote, according to Roberson.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the “brunch bill,” establishing the new law June 30.

Opponents of the new law said it will deter some people from going to church, according to reports by The Associated Press. Supporters of the new law said it will help efforts by some counties and municipalities to attract tourists and boost local economies.

The new law allows retail establishments — breweries and bottle shops — to seek permits to sell unfortified wine without being required to sell food. It also allows breweries to distribute samples of their beer, either paid or free, to customers, employees and visitors for consumption on premises.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike