PILOT MOUNTAIN — The town of Pilot Mountain passed a local ordinance supporting the so-called “brunch bill” Monday night.
In the final days of June session, the N.C. General Assembly passed Senate Bill 155; unlike some other bills that were vetoed by the governor, this bill was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper.
It will allow alcohol to be served on Sunday mornings in North Carolina beginning at 10 a.m. Prior to its passage, the state’s “blue laws” made it illegal to sell or serve alcohol on Sundays before noon.
Commissioner Evan Cockerham told citizens in attendance at Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting that he had inquired of the staff and town attorney if the law would allow Pilot Mountain to allow alcohol sales on-site, but not off-site.
He said that the answer he got was that it wouldn’t be legal to allow a restaurant to serve alcohol and yet stop a grocery store from selling wine or beer. It would have to be both or neither.
It’s foolish to think that any town can stop people from drinking if they choose to before noon, said Cockerham. They’ll make arrangements to keep alcohol on hand. Passing this ordinance will have more impact on restaurant brunch sales.
Commissioner Gary Bell said he’s torn.
“If you need a drink before noon, you have an issue,” he said. On the other hand, if it helps businesses draw tourists dollars then that could be good for the town. Still, he said, that’s only a couple of places in a town as small as Pilot; it’s not like the board is talking about 20 or 30 places.
Mayor Dwight Atkins said, “The biggest church in town gets out at 11 (a.m.).” The members leave church, but then have to kill time before they can put a bottle of wine in their shopping basket until the Baptists get out at noon, he said. To him, allowing alcohol sales two hours earlier would be fine.
The people who are against seeing folks drink an alcoholic beverage with a meal don’t have to eat lunch at 11 a.m., said Commissioner Linda Needham.
Billy Pell, chairman of the ABC board, said it didn’t matter to him because the ABC store is closed all day on Sundays.
The mayor asked Police Chief Darryl Bottoms what happened with DWI statistics in the town limits when the ABC store opened. The chief said the number actually went down.
Bell said that was because they were taking it home instead of drinking out somewhere and driving home.
After discussion, the board chose to pass an ordinance allowing the 10 a.m. alcohol sales. Commissioner Kim Quinn was out of town and unable to vote.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.