Pembroke balks on alcohol request

Jaymie Baxley

August 4, 2014

PEMBROKE — The Pembroke Town Council decided Monday to gather opinions from residents before voting on whether to allow the controlled sale of beer and wine during the upcoming Peace in the Park concert series.

Charly Lowry, who spearheaded the annual series and is the lead singer of the group Dark Water Rising, delivered a slideshow presentation to the council touting the benefits of permitting a beer garden during the four-part concert series, which will be held on Thursdays in September. The proposed garden would restrict the consumption of alcohol to a fenced-off area in the Pembroke Town Park and would require concertgoers to purchase tickets in advance that can be exchanged for drinks.

“I know there are several different concerns. Any time you mix alcohol with people, you’re going to have concerns,” she said, adding that the garden “creates a controlled environment where they have to stay within a designated area … .”

According to Lowry, a one-time, special-use permit from the North Carolina ABC Commission allowing the outdoor sale of alcohol would cost $50. The total cost of securing permits for each installment of the four-part concert series, which kicks off on Sept. 4, would be $200.

“If the town chooses to go with this, the profits will go back into the town,” Lowry said.

Council members Theresa Locklear and Larry McNeill voiced opposition to the idea.

“I’ve never drank beer or liquor, and I don’t know what it tastes like… . I’m still against having alcohol out in the open,” McNeill said.

“I understand alcohol and outdoor activities do not correspond. I feel that, if you wanted to do this, it should have a different title. It should not be called Peace in the Park,” Locklear said.

Councilman Ryan Sampson was in favor of the beer garden.

“We’re around beer all the time,” he said. “Someone is sitting inside a restaurant drinking beer.”

Beer is offered during the annual Alive After 5 concert series in downtown Lumberton and Fairmont recently allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages during its annual May Day Festival.

“I think we should see how the community feels about it before making a decision on it,” Councilman Channing Jones said.

In other business, the council:

— Approved an amendment to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance to allow Cindy Locklear to open a day-support facility at 609 Union Chapel Road.

— Denied a request to amend the town’s zoning map from Johnny Ozuna, who wants to open a tattoo parlor on North Main Street.

— Received a report from ABC Board Chairman Joseph Locklear, who said that sales at the Pembroke ABC location decreased in June. Locklear attributed the drop to students students leaving The University of North Carolina Pembroke for the summer.

— Watched Mitch Lowry, president of the Pembroke Kiwanis Club, present Mayor Milton Hunt with two awards recognizing the Pembroke Police Department and Rescue Squad for providing escort services during the sixth annual bicycle ride and 33rd annual 5K and Fun Walk events, which were part of the 49th annual Lumbee Homecoming celebration.