Archived News

Franklin OK’s alcohol sales

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

The Franklin Board of Elections went to work Tuesday morning (Aug. 1) to certify results of a referendum in which voters passed beer and liquor sales, opening the door for local businesses to begin submitting permit applications to the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Canvassing began at 11 a.m. as election board workers reviewed the ballots cast. Preliminary results showed that on-premise malt beverage sales at hotel, motels and restaurants, and off-premise sales by other permitted businesses passed by a vote of 448 to 336. Sales of mixed beverages at hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theaters and convention centers passed by a vote of 433 to 342.

Prior to the referendum, speculation about whether or not it would pass varied wildly. Franklin has long debated beer and liquor sales, as some local restaurant owners have spent years pushing town board members to hold a vote on the issue. But advocates of beer and liquor sales could never muster enough support for a referendum.

In fall 2002, a petition was circulated to collect signatures in support of a referendum. Signatures were needed from 35 percent — or 1,074 — of Franklin’s registered voters. Only 400 signatures were received.

This spring town board members finally decided it was time to put the issue out to voters. Aldermen Jerry Evans, Bob Scott and Sissy Pattillo split the vote with aldermen Verlin Curtis, Billy Mashburn and Charles Roper to allow for the referendum. Mayor Joe Collins cast the tie-breaking vote, passing the motion.

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Only 27 percent of the town’s approximately 2,800 voters participated in the referendum. Votes for beer and liquor sales represented approximately 57 percent of the ballots cast.

Prior to certification of the referendum results, ABC Commission Assistant Administrator Doyle Alley said that they had only received one inquiry about the permitting process. Chuck and Nancy Poser, owners of the Summit Inn and Spa, are reopening after a 24-month remodeling project that adds a restaurant and piano bar to the establishment. The River Rock Lounge, as it will be called will aim for an upscale clientele, most likely with admission membership based.

“This will time perfectly with that,” Chuck Poser said of the passage of beer and liquor sales.

Poser said he expects the availability of beer and liquor to spawn the creation of new places for the county’s younger residents to hang out — something that is sorely missing now.

Sylva Police Chief Jeff Jamison said that town’s recently passed on-premise liquor by the drink vote had not increased the number of driving under the influence arrests.

“It doesn’t seem to have increased any as far as the arrests go, but the one thing that the officers have mentioned is that people (arrested) do seem to be more intoxicated,” Jamison said.

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