The Charlotte City Council is expected to decide this month whether to implement social districts, which would allow people in certain areas to drink alcohol socially in outdoor spaces. Council members have named Plaza Midwood, NoDa, South End and Ballantyne as areas that have shown interest in social districts.

The city will hold a public forum during its council meeting Aug. 15 to hear from residents before voting on the districts the following week. Those interested in speaking during next week’s public hearing can sign up at charlottenc.gov on the city clerk’s page.

Social districts are possible due to House Bill 890, a measure allowing cities and counties to define outdoor spaces where people can legally drink alcoholic beverages bought from a state-permitted business.

Social district supporters expect them to drive economic prosperity for the service, retail and tourism industries. It’s unclear whether most council members support creating social districts, as some are waiting to hear from the public before taking a public stance.

Some council members said they want to add more rules for Charlotte’s social districts, including noise restrictions and proximity to residential areas.

If the council approves social districts later this month, it would not immediately create certain areas in the city where drinking outdoors is allowed. Local groups or business owners would have to come to council to request permission to create a social district.

Regulations for the districts at the state level include:

  • Social districts must be set up with clear signs along streets and parks in defined areas. 
  • Bars and restaurants must provide social district-labeled cups. 
  • Alcoholic drinks must be purchased from ABC-permitted businesses within the social district.
  • Drinks must be a maximum of 16 fluid ounces

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer. It has been edited per agreement for space constraints.

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