After an Oct. 9 public hearing showed strong sentiments on both sides of the issue, the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen tabled the proposed Brunch Bill ordinance during a Nov. 14 meeting.
When reached for comment, Alderman Dr. Janet Banks explained that Mayor Saralyn Price wanted Alderman Clayton Davis, who had taken ill the day before and was therefore absent, to have the opportunity to vote along with the rest of the board.
Long-time residents of Maggie Valley as well as members of a local church had spoken out against the measure, which would allow sales and service of alcohol to begin two hours earlier on Sundays, at the Oct. 9 hearing.
Not so for distillery owner Dave Angel, operator of Maggie Valley’s Elevated Mountain and tireless advocate for the proposal, who said Oct. 9 that it sends a signal to businesses that might be looking to locate in the Valley, which is currently home to about a dozen vacant restaurants and hotels.
Teresa Smith of the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce echoed Angel’s business case on Oct. 9, and was the only person to speak on the proposal at the Nov. 14 meeting, citing the overwhelming public support she’d received and an anecdote she’d heard from a local convenience store.
Some customers, she said, were planning a Sunday morning picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and had gathered up some snacks and a bottle of wine; when told they couldn’t purchase the wine because it was before noon, they put everything back and left for Waynesville.
But Smith’s anecdote came before Mayor Price tabled the vote during the meeting without explanation.
The board will hold its usual agenda-setting meeting Dec. 5, after which it will be clear as to whether or not the proposed brunch ordinance will be heard at the regular town board meeting scheduled for Dec. 11.
Banks thinks the proposal will appear on that agenda, and plans to vote for it.
“I’m in favor,” Banks said. “I think it’s good for economic development in Maggie Valley.”
More than 30 businesses — not necessarily restaurants or establishments that sell alcohol — wrote letters of support for the proposal, according to Banks, and at least 20 phone calls to town hall expressed similar feelings. Just three communications against the measure had been received.
The proposal, however, still faces an uncertain fate.
Recently reelected aldermen Davis and Mike Eveland both declined to declare a position on the proposal at an Oct. 18 forum hosted by The Smoky Mountain News, citing their upcoming votes.
Davis, however, joined Alderman Phillip Wight back in September in voting against even calling the Oct. 9 public hearing. Wight felt the proposal wasn’t really relevant to Maggie Valley, where there are admittedly few businesses that would take direct advantage of such a measure. Davis didn’t return a call for comment at the time.
With Banks in favor, and the presumption that Davis and Wight remain opposed, that leaves only Eveland.
Although he hasn’t made his position clear, he also hasn’t expressed opposition, and appears to have taken the matter into thoughtful consideration during the months-long discussion.
Price’s tabling can be perceived as a good-government gesture to ensure full board representation on a divisive community issue.
Price’s tabling can also be perceived as an attempt to ensure an important no vote could be cast by Davis.
If by chance Eveland supports the proposal, resulting in a two-two tie, Price’s tie-breaking vote could go a long way in determining which perception is reality, and where, exactly, the future of both tourism and economic development in Maggie Valley are headed.