Council sets hearing on earlier alcohol sales


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, July 17, 2017

Elizabeth City City Council will hold a public hearing on Aug. 14 to consider whether to allow alcohol sales on Sunday mornings.

Council called for the hearing last week by a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Johnnie Walton and Darius Horton voting against holding the hearing.

Council is considering OK’ing earlier alcohol sales now because a new state law, nicknamed the “Brunch Bill,” allows local governments to set alcohol sales as early as 10 a.m. Previously, alcohol could not be legally sold on Sundays before noon.

The legislation is seen as a win for the Outer Banks, where the business community has lobbied for years for earlier alcohol sales they say will help profits without hurting public safety. The change is generating less excitement in Pasquotank and Camden counties, where local officials said last week there hasn’t been much talk about the issue.

Councilor Tony Stimatz made the motion, seconded by Councilor Michael Brooks, to hold the public hearing on allowing earlier alcohol sales.

Walton said the public hearing shouldn’t be called because the city shouldn’t change its ordinance on Sunday alcohol sales. Before noon is too early on a Sunday — a holy day to many — to allow alcohol sales, he said.

“We’re supposed to be this Christian community,” he said, citing problems that alcohol consumption can cause.

Stimatz responded that council was only calling for a public hearing, allowing the council to hear the public’s views on whether to change the law in Elizabeth City.

In a brief interview Friday, City Manager Rich Olson said he still hasn’t heard much discussion from either businesses or church leaders about changing the law.