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Locust to hold public hearing to discuss ‘brunch bill’ ordinance

The Locust City Council on Thursday night passed a motion to set up a public hearing to decide whether to pass an ordinance allowing alcohol sales beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday instead of noon.

City Administrator Cesar Correa received a written request from Matthew Harris, co-owner of The Local Room restaurant, asking for the council to make the change.

“We feel like doing so would help promote the growth of our business and stands to offer the people of Stanly County and outlying counties a place to gather,” Harris and the other Local Room owners wrote about the city adopting the ordinance.

This is not the first time the council has looked into issue.

The council first debated passing the ordinance in 2017, when the state passed the so-called “brunch bill” into law, allowing retail outlets and restaurants to start selling alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sunday. North Carolina joined 47 states which allow alcohol service before noon on Sunday.

Due to the fact that only one restaurant at the time would have benefited from the ordinance — Tailgators Sports Grill — the council decided not to pass it.

Correa noted that if the ordinance passed, the city could receive additional revenue when alcohol was purchased at the ABC store during the extended hours. Aside from The Local Room, the other restaurants open on Sunday that could benefit would be Tailgators and El Vaquero.

Many local municipalities have already approved the “brunch bill” including Albemarle, Mount Pleasant and Charlotte, Correa said.

Even though the council only voted on approving a public hearing to take place next month, many council members still weighed in on the topic.

Councilman Harry Fletcher said while he was initially opposed to passing the ordinance in 2017, “I have since rethought that position and I see no reason not to set a public hearing and go forward with it.”

In stark opposition to the ordinance was Councilman Roger Hypes, who said it would go against Locust’s image as a City with a Soul.

“Out of respect for the churches and people that do attend church, I don’t see why we need to make it more convenient for people to have drinks” at an earlier time, he said. Even though neighboring municipalities have already approved it, “we’re a separate entity and we should respect those who oppose earlier drinking.”

Though not a regular voting member, unless there is a tie, Mayor Steve Huber also expressed support for the ordinance. He thinks passing it would benefit The Local Room “and not in a way that I feel like would be detrimental to Locust” and it could help attract large national chain restaurants to the city.

“I really don’t, from my humble opinion, see this as something that would jeopardize our position as a City with a Soul,” Huber added.

By a 5 to 2 vote, the council passed the motion to set up a public hearing about the topic next month. Councilmen Roger Hypes and JC Burris voted against it.

The next council meeting will be 7 p.m. April 8.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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