Volume 15, Number 36
Three Wake Forest commissioners – Brian Pate, Margaret Stinnett and Jim Thompson – voted Tuesday night to allow businesses to serve and sell beer, wine and liquor beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays instead of noon.
But it will be another month before the change takes effect in town because of N.C. General Statute 160A-75. The town’s attorney, Eric Vernon, explained it says that “municipal ordinances must be adopted with a two-thirds majority of ‘all the actual membership of the Board’ to be valid on the first reading.” There are five commissioners and Commissioner Anne Reeve was absent because of illness Tuesday night. Under the statute, four votes were needed. The second vote will be taken when the board holds its Aug. 15 meeting and there is no two-thirds requirement for the second reading.
Commissioner Greg Harrington voted no and said, “I’m a conservative. I don’t know how in the world my compatriots in the General Assembly did this. I don’t think anybody is going to die by not having a drink before noon on Sunday.” He also said it appeared to him the “moral fiber of the country is being eroded every day. I’m hoping we as a board have the backbone to stand up to the alcohol industry by saying no.”
“I admire your comments,” Mayor Vivian Jones said to Harrington. After the meeting she released a statement saying the town is a progressive community that continues to change with the times. “The law to prohibit alcohol sales until noon on Sundays is a holdover from the days when most of our citizens were in church until noon on Sunday,” she said. “Now, our community is much more diverse, and many churches offer early services. It makes sense for us to change some of our older regulations as the world changes.”
This is a profound change indeed. When the town was first chartered in 1880 as the Town of Wake Forest College the charter included a provision that alcohol could not be sold in town and within a mile of the town limits. When the town was rechartered in 1909 as the Town of Wake Forest that provision was included. Small bars or stores selling beer sprang up on at least three of the roads leading out of town to cater to the college students, all male, and local residents. It was not until 1972 when the commissioners were redrafting the charter to reflect a council-administrator form of government – they had just hired the first administrator, Julian B. Prosser Jr., at a salary of $11,000 – that the no-alcohol item was very quietly left out.
In other actions, the board replaced 13 parking spaces on the north side of North Avenue. “The net loss was three spaces and the loading zone,” Director of Engineering Eric Keravuori noted. The parking spaces were removed in a 2015 ordinance that was never enforced and the signs were never removed. The loss of parking and the loading zone for the historic brick store were part of the complaints the street’s residents had against its inclusion in the Stadium Drive Complete Street Plan. The town recently agreed that the only change for North Avenue will be the replacement of an old water line and repaving the street.
Also, the board agreed to contribute $40,000 to a $120,000 project at Heritage High School for a group led by parents to build press boxes at the baseball and softball fields with a bathroom at one field. The town and the school have an agreement under which the town paid for the construction of some of the athletic facilities at the school for use by town recreation programs and provides maintenance.
The board also approved a three-year extension of its contract with Republic Services for residential garbage and recycling collection. Public Works Director Mike Barton said, “The Republic contract is based on the number of customers (currently 12,078 residences) $130,321.62 for Solid Waste at $10.79 per residence and $42,393.78 for Recycling at $3.51 per residence plus a charge of $701.35 for our current 65 second trash cart customers at $10.79 each for a current monthly total of $173,416.75 per month.” The new contract does include rate increases in the second and third years based on the percent of increase in the Consumer Price Index.
Also, the board accepted $348,530.00 from Wake County toward the Renaissance Centre renovation. The money came from the county hotel/motel and prepared food and beverage taxes. The county approved $3.35 million in April 2016 for major projects throughout the county.