BROADWAY: Alcohol sales in restaurants to appear on November ballot

Jul. 24, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Restaurants in Broadway aren’t allowed to serve alcohol, but residents soon will have the opportunity to change that rule.

That opportunity will come during the elections in November. The Broadway Board of Town Commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to put an alcohol referendum on the upcoming ballot, when four of the seven seats on the board will also be up for election.

Residents of the small town can make their voice heard on four issues, each independent of the others: whether restaurants can serve beer and other malt beverages, whether they can serve wine, whether they can serve mixed drinks, and whether an ABC store should be allowed within town limits.

“People need to understand that the board cannot authorize the sale of these beverages in town,” said Town Manager Bob Stevens. “What the board is doing is giving people the opportunity to vote.”

Now, only Broadway’s grocery stores and gas stations are allowed to sell beer and wine. Mayor Donald Andrews said three people came to Monday’s meeting specifically to voice their support of extending that right to restaurants — and no one spoke against it. The town gave voters a similar option in 1995, which was voted down. But Andrews said now, nearly 20 years removed from that vote, it’s time to revisit the issue.

“It’s a considerable disadvantage trying to attract folks to the restaurants,” he said. “... The board has voted to put it on the ballot, and now it’s up to the public.”

The board also decided to continue funding the Lee County Economic Development Corporation, albeit at 50 percent of what it gave last year, which Andrews and Stevens said was due to fiscal pressure stemming from the county’s decision to reallocate sales tax revenues.

Broadway lost at least $110,000 due to the sales tax redistribution, and the city of Sanford lost more than $1 million. Both municipalities have now decided to contribute half of their usual funding to the EDC, which is charged with recruiting businesses and otherwise helping grow the local economy.

Stevens said the town will re-examine its participation rate in January, when the EDC is further along in its transition period of merging with the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re reducing until we see that this is going to be viable option, and then we’re going to talk about it again,” he said.

The board also:

* Unanimously passed a resolution calling for the legislature to require natural gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, as Lee County would be the epicenter of hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina.

* Approved the sale of surplus equipment to raise funds.

* Approved the purchase of enough American flags and banners to line Main Street during patriotic holidays.

* Reappointed Betsy Kelly to the planning board.

* Honored Howard Griffin, a public works employee who is retiring after 34 years with the town. Stevens said Griffin is a walking encyclopedia of Broadway’s history and people, and that he’ll be able to come back and work part time while also drawing retirement. The board reduced his position from full time to part time last month to deal with budget cuts.