Pittsboro explores Social Districts: A new way to sip and stroll

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – In a recent Pittsboro Town board meeting, the topic of Social Districts emerged as a point of discussion. I had a chance to sit down with Kyle Shipp, one of the Town board members and got into some of the details of what Social Districts are, how they work, and what it means for the future of Pittsboro. During our conversation he shed some light on this intriguing concept that could change the way people enjoy alcoholic beverages in the town of Pittsboro. Social Districts, a new state law in North Carolina, permit individuals to walk around with alcoholic drinks within defined boundaries, and it’s sparking both excitement and curiosity among locals and visitors alike.

The town of Pittsboro is known for its historic charm, vibrant arts scene, and friendly community. However, recent discussions at the Pittsboro Town board meetings have brought a new concept to the forefront – Social Districts. This innovative approach to enjoying alcoholic beverages in public spaces has the potential to transform the way people experience the town.

What Are Social Districts?

Social Districts, as explained by Kyle Shipp, are a product of a new state law in North Carolina. They offer a novel way for people to savor alcoholic drinks while exploring the town’s various attractions. Under this law, specific areas within Pittsboro would be designated as Social Districts, allowing businesses with ABC permits to serve alcohol that can be consumed within those boundaries. The drinks must be served in approved cups bearing essential information like the district’s name, the source of the beverage, and the date and time of purchase.

Stickers that are used on cups with alcohol beverages in the Town of Elon Social District.

Setting Boundaries for Social Districts

One of the critical aspects of implementing Social Districts is defining their boundaries. Pittsboro has turned to the Downtown Advisory Board for recommendations. Currently, the suggested boundary encompasses the downtown area, but discussions are ongoing to ensure that establishments selling alcohol and those welcoming shoppers can be included. The goal is to strike a balance that benefits businesses and the community.

The Decision-Making Process

Unlike some alcohol-related regulations that require public referendums, Social Districts are a decision made by the Town board. The board determines the boundaries, hours of operation, and other rules, which are then submitted to the state ABC commission for final approval. This process allows the town to tailor the Social District concept to its unique needs and character.

Operating Hours and Flexibility

One key consideration is the hours during which Social Districts would be in effect. The Downtown Advisory Board suggested 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. However, Pittsboro retains the flexibility to adjust these hours, potentially having different schedules for different days of the week. The primary goal is to ensure that the public can easily understand and comply with the designated hours.

Possible Pittsboro Social District window decals were shown in a Downtown Advisory Board presentation.

Enforcement and Responsibility

Enforcing Social District rules falls on multiple shoulders. ABC permittees, such as bars and restaurants, are responsible for ensuring that they serve alcohol responsibly and that patrons use approved cups. Simultaneously, the Pittsboro Police Department will oversee general enforcement and ensure that people do not consume alcohol outside of designated Social District areas. The success of Social Districts hinges on responsible participation from both businesses and residents.

Noise Ordinance and Responsible Behavior

While Social Districts introduce a novel way to enjoy alcoholic beverages, they do not exempt participants from adhering to Pittsboro’s noise ordinance or other regulations. The importance of responsible behavior cannot be overstated, as the town seeks to strike a balance between enhanced enjoyment and maintaining its character.

Public Participation

Pittsboro values community input. As decisions about Social Districts progress, the public has the opportunity to participate and share their opinions during the public comment period at town board meetings. The engagement of the community in shaping this innovative concept is vital.

The Future of Pittsboro

The introduction of Social Districts in Pittsboro promises to be a game-changer, offering residents and visitors a unique way to experience the town’s culture and attractions. With responsible planning and community engagement, Pittsboro aims to strike the right balance between fostering economic growth for local businesses and preserving the town’s cherished character.

As Pittsboro navigates the path towards implementing Social Districts, it is imperative for the community to stay informed and engaged. Attend town board meetings, voice your opinions, and participate in shaping the future of this charming North Carolina town. Pittsboro’s potential as a thriving, dynamic destination is on the horizon, and Social Districts are just one exciting step in that direction. Stay tuned as the town continues to explore this innovative concept and ensure that your voice is heard in this exciting new chapter for Pittsboro.

Watch the conversation with Kyle Shipp about the proposed Pittsboro Social district

00:07 Pittsboro is considering a social district allowing people to walk around with alcoholic drinks

  • A social district is a new state law that permits people to walk around with alcoholic drinks
  • The social district in Pittsboro allows visitors to get a beer from a specific venue and walk around the town with it
  • Shops in the social district must have signage welcoming visitors with alcoholic drinks

01:18 Pittsboro social district allows businesses to sell alcohol within a boundary.

  • Alcoholic beverage can be brought into participating retail businesses.
  • Specific signage on each door indicates whether alcohol is allowed or not.

02:14 The town board will decide on the boundaries and hours of the social district.

  • The downtown Advisory Board studied and reported on the social district.
  • The boundary is currently the downtown area.
  • The town board will discuss and determine the final boundary.
  • The social district will include establishments that sell alcohol and allow people to shop.

03:15 The town board is requesting approval from the state ABC commission for a social district.

  • The town board’s decision will go through a regulatory process and require approval from the state.
  • The downtown Advisory Board suggested operating hours from 11 A.M to 11 P.M, seven days a week.

04:18 Flexibility in operating hours

  • Different operating hours on different days of the week.
  • Easier to communicate consistent operating hours.

05:16 Restaurants in the Pittsboro Social District must adhere to strict regulations.

  • They must verify the age of customers purchasing alcohol.
  • The cups used must have the Pittsboro Social District logo and include the date and time of purchase.
  • Enforcement of rules outside the Social District falls under the responsibility of the police department.

06:11 Discussion on establishment penalties and upcoming decision

  • Details of establishment penalties will be figured out
  • Next meeting will involve making a decision on the matter

07:07 Public discussion is open for anyone to join and participate

  • The public comment period is available at all meetings for people to share their opinions
  • The last meeting had a significant turnout, including members from the downtown Advisory Board and local establishment owners