UPDATED: Manteo leaders approve social district that allows carrying libations around downtown

UPDATED: Manteo leaders approve social district that allows carrying libations around downtown

April 6th, 2023

UPDATED, Thursday 8 a.m.: The Manteo Board of Commissioners has approved a social district for downtown just in time for this week’s First Friday.

Part of a package of amendments to many of North Carolina’s Prohibition-era alcohol laws approved by the General Assembly in 2021, social districts allow patrons to carry open cups of alcoholic beverages along designated streets.

Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill last August that made clarifications to the social district law.

Drinks must be purchased at participating restaurants and bars, and no alcohol from sources outside the district can be carried or consumed from an open container in the designated area.

Dozens of towns and cities around the state have since approved the districts, with many saying they have been a success for businesses and that there has been no increase in alcohol-related violations or public disturbances.

Garret Cameron, co-owner of NouVines, gave a presentation to the town’s Board of Commissioners about social districts at their February meeting, which was followed in March by the Manteo Main Street Advisory Board voting unanimously to recommend its creation.

Commissioners directed town staff last month to move forward on the proposal, including drafting the Social District Ordinance and a map of the district.

The Manteo Downtown Social District is marked in blue. [courtesy Town of Manteo]
Manteo Town Manager Melissa Dickerson said as soon as the social district is approved by the commissioners and then state Alcohol Law Enforcement, the town plans to issue stickers to participating establishments to mark patrons’ cups.

The stickers will be used until the town creates and distributes specifically-designed and marked cups, according to Dickerson.

A preliminary design of cups for the Manteo Downtown Social District that was included in the agenda packet for the April 5, 2023 Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Signs will mark the boundaries, hours and other rules of the social district.

A sign marking Downtown Raleigh’s social district. [courtesy Downtown Raleigh Alliance/Twitter]
Customer-purchased alcoholic beverages may only be consumed within the Downtown Manteo Social District from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, according to the proposed ordinance.

The boundaries of the social district align closely with the B-1 Village Business District on the town’s existing zoning map, but excludes Roanoke Island Festival Park because it is state property and has a separate license that allows alcohol sales during events.

Dickerson said there are plans to discuss with state officials at a later time about if adding Roanoke Island Festival Park to the district is an option.

Elizabeth City is also reportedly looking at creating its own social district for their downtown area soon.

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