After the Anson County Board of Commissioners voted last week to move forward with putting alcohol sales to a vote in the November elections, questions have arisen from many residents about what exactly the vote means and which commissioners voted for it or against it.
The vote was 4-2, with Commissioners Dr. Jim Sims and Bobby Sikes voting against it, and Commissioner Harold Smith absent.
At this month’s commissioners meeting, the board agreed to move forward with placing the item on the November ballot. The following wording will be placed on the ballot, pending approval from the N.C. Board of Elections: “FOR [ ] or AGAINST [ ] the ‘on-premises’ and ‘off-premises’ sale of malt beverage or unfortified wine in Anson County.”
“On premise is where you consume the beer/wine where you buy it,” County Manager Lawrence Gatewood explained. “Examples would be a wine tasting at a winery or buying a beer/wine at a bar and drinking it there. Off premise is just the opposite. Example would be buying a six-pack of beer at a convenience store and taking it home (off-premise) to drink.”
County Attorney Scott Forbes further clarified what the vote will mean for county residents. “If the referendum passes,” he said, “the entire county will be eligible to sell beer and wine. For example, the town of Peachland cannot sell beer or wine right now, but, if this passes, the county would supersede the towns. If the county’s wet, all of the towns in the county are wet, too.”
He added that every Anson County resident is eligible to vote for or against this referendum in the November election.
Commissioner Sims said he voted against the measure because, simply put, he doesn’t think more alcohol sales are needed in Anson County. “I don’t think it’s a progressive move for Anson County,” he said. “We have many sources for beer or alcohol in Anson County already, particularly in the municipalities. I think having more sources in the rural areas would only cause problems.”
Commissioner Sikes echoed those thoughts, saying he felt that alcohol often brings about violence, as well as drinking and driving accidents. “I don’t think there are enough rules in place to govern what’s going on in the rural areas,” he added. “Things could get out of control.”
Sikes admitted that it’s everyone’s right to drink alcohol if they so choose, and he’s not against that. “But,” he said, “I’ve never been in favor of it.”
Commissioner Ross Streater was one of the four who voted in favor of putting the referendum on the ballot. “I think it will bring tax money to the county,” he said, “and some of the merchants have come to me and asked me to support it.”
He added that residents in rural areas of the county should be treated the same as those who live within town limits. “If people inside the city limits can buy alcohol, people in rural areas should be able to,” he said.
Alcohol sales within Anson County has come to a vote before, in 1984, when citizens voted against it. Board of Elections director Steve Adams is working on a detailed report about that vote, and more information will be printed in the Aug. 20 issue.