Charlotte inches closer to creating ‘social districts’ for outdoor entertainment

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At least eight North Carolina towns allow residents and visitors to sip adult beverages while walking in areas designated for outdoor entertainment.

Will Charlotte be next?

At today’s City Council meeting, the public will get to weigh in on a plan that could lead to the creation of several “social districts” in the Queen City.

Such districts already exist in Raleigh, Greensboro, Kannapolis, Monroe, Cornelius, Newton, Salisbury and Norwood — made possible for the first time last year by the North Carolina General Assembly.

Some U.S. cities have turned large swaths of their downtown areas into social districts.

Charlotte proposes to have multiple districts (imagine areas such as Uptown, South End, Noda, Plaza Midwood and Camp North End, for example).

Alcohol sales within the districts, which have not yet been designated, would be strictly regulated.

For example:

  • Drinks would be sold in cups (no bigger than 16 ounces) that are labeled and approved by the city.
  • Drinks would not be allowed beyond the boundaries of a social district.
  • Boundaries would be marked with signage that includes the days and hours when alcohol consumption is allowed.
  • Participating businesses that don’t sell alcohol would be required to allow law enforcement officers in customer areas

Driving this trend: City officials say social districts are good for business, attracting tourists and encouraging locals to get out and spend money with local shops.

Last month, council members serving on the Safe Communities Committee voted unanimously to move the proposal to the full city council.

Tonight’s council meeting starts at 5 p.m. at the Government Center, starting with public comments on the social districts proposal.

Brush up on the details to be better informed.

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