Albemarle approves special use permit for Badin Brews

On Feb. 19, Albemarle City Council voted 4-3 to approve a text amendment that would allow establishments serving alcoholic beverages in the downtown business district to operate as bars. The approved amendment stipulated at least a 200-foot separation between such businesses, and that a Special Use Permit be approved by City Council for each business.

According to definitions established by the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, “typically (bars) shall be establishments serving hard liquor and/or fortified wines without requisite percentages of sales being from food served by the establishment.”

At the March 18 Council meeting, an application by Badin Brews owner Josh Hicks was approved by the same 4-3 margin, thus becoming the first Albemarle establishment to receive clearance to operate as a bar.

Hicks spoke to council members regarding his request.

“We have operated for two and a half years with no issues or complaints from neighboring businesses,” Hicks said. “I run a tight ship, and I won’t let our business become a black eye on the downtown. I want this to be a respectable establishment, and I want the town to want us here.”

Councilman Bill Aldridge asked Hicks about protocol for the business to decline service to customers who may be overindulging.

“Oh, yes, just like at any restaurant downtown, we have the right to refuse them anything,” Hicks said.

Aldridge asked about a June 2023 situation in which a customer left the establishment and “didn’t make it home.”

“In that instance, I looked back over the cameras,” said Hicks. “(The customer) was not overserved. I was prepared for everything, and told the police to come look at it, but nothing happened.”

“My bartenders will not over serve you and allow you to leave,” he continued, “because they won’t have a job if they do.”

“How many drinks does it take for a person to get drunk?” asked Councilman Chris Bramlett.

“That’s dependent upon a person’s size, weight, metabolism and tolerance of alcohol,” Hicks replied. “For someone who drinks often, it would take more than for someone who doesn’t.”

The public hearing, conducted in a quasi-judicial format, required council members to vote on five findings of fact related to the special use permit request, regarding whether the proposed usage:

• Would not materially endanger public health or safety;

• Would meet all required conditions and specifications;

• Would not injure the value of adjoining or abutting property;

• Would be in harmony with adjacent uses and operating hours; and

• Would be in general conformance with adopted plans.

All five findings of fact were voted upon separately and approved by 4-3 votes, with Councilmen Aldridge, Bramlett and David Hunt voting in opposition to each.

In other business, the council:

• Presented retirement certificates to Crystal Bowers for 20 years service and to Iris Coggins for 57.5 years of service;

Iris Coggins, center, has retired from the City of Albemarle with 57.5 years of service. She is joined by Mayor Ronnie Michael, left, and her husband, Jim. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Mayor Ronnie Michael, left, honors Crystal Bowers upon her retirement after 20 years of service to Albemarle. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

• Received an update from Adam Kiker of LKC Engineering on the Moss Springs Road Pump Station Rehabilitation Project;

• Set the date of the Albemarle Christmas Parade for Dec. 14;

• Approved applying for a 2024 Stanly County Parks and Recreation Grant;

• Approved submission of an application for a Rural Downtown Development Grant; and

• Entered a closed session to consult with the city attorney and receive personnel updates.

The next meeting of Albemarle City Council is set for 6:30 p.m. April 1.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.