Washington City Council votes to request state approval for social district

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) -Washington City Council members and residents gathered Monday night to consider an ordinance that would bring a social district to the downtown area. The ordinance would allow people to drink beer, wine or cocktails as they walk through a defined area of the city.

“I think it does give people a more freedom of movement. I think it’s great to be able to buy a beer and walk downtown to the waterfront, to sit in the swing and have a nice peaceful evening,” said resident Marty Smythe. “Especially if it’s monitored, and it’s done correctly.”

The proposed district is limited to Main Street and parts of several intersecting streets, with the district operating Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m. as well as Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. Washington Mayor Don Sadler said he doesn’t foresee things getting out of hand.

“We are a retirement community and mostly mature individuals in our city, so I don’t see any issues that would be created for the police department,” Sadler said. “It shows that we support our local businesses. We want to attract tourists to Washington and our downtown area. Again, it can just make us a vibrant downtown for our city.”

Council members voted Monday to request state approval for social districts. The vote comes less than a week after Greenville’s social district started and Washington Harbor District Alliance Executive Director Meg Howdy hopes it will bring more revenue to local businesses.

“The great thing about doing a social district is it’s really not about alcohol; it’s about our small businesses and bringing another tool to our toolbox to assist those small businesses,” Howdy said. “COVID was hard on everyone, and this is another way for us to hopefully increase revenue into our businesses.”

Mayor Sadler said that the city’s plan is to have things in operation as soon as the holiday season. If the city votes to adopt this social district ordinance, it will not go into effect for another 45 days after that.

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