DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Voters will now get to decide if Davidson County will stay dry or if it will be legal to sell alcohol there. Right now, alcohol can be sold in Thomasville and Lexington, but not in grocery stores, convenience stores or restaurants in the rest of the county.
The Davidson County Board of Commissioners passed a referendum in a split vote allowing the issue to be on the ballot in the November 2016 general election. This will be the first time in 35 years voters will have a say on the issue. Previously, the issue of alcohol sales was on the ballot in 1980 and 1966. The resolution wasn't passed either time.
"Businesses can't survive. In restaurants, customers can bring in wine, but the owners can't sell it so it doesn't even really make any sense," said Pat Lambeth-Watson.
"I just don't think it's a good idea. To drink in your own home is fine, but to then go to restaurants and have to drive home? I don't support it," said resident Gail Isley.
"It's difficult for us businesses, no doubt about it," says Chef Dion Sprenkle, of Chef Dion's on Old Highway 52 in Davidson County. He says the ban on alcohol sales hurts not just his profit margins, but also the experience of his customers wanting to enjoy a fine meal. "We're losing money. People are going to nearby counties because they can't get alcohol here. People want a glass of wine with a nice dinner. I just think it's time for the county to be modern day, allow the restaurants to thrive and grow and put those tax dollars to work on other projects."
Commissioner Fred McClure voted against the referendum. "I feel strongly this will make alcohol easier to get for underage drinkers. I also know statistically it's bad for health reasons."