GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — More North Carolina cities are considering establishing social districts, with legislation now in place that clarifies how and where they can do so.

In July, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill that clarifies the requirements for social districts in the state. That bill further explained some of the information included in H.B. 890, which made social districts permissible.

Social districts must be registered with the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Twelve municipalities have done so, according to ABC Commission Public Affairs Director Jeff Strickland. Those municipalities are Newton, Kannapolis, Greensboro, Monroe, Norwood, Madison, Selma, Raleigh, Oxford, Greenville, Huntersville and Wilson.

“The ABC Commission and our staff are here to assist and provide information to any municipality that is considering, or already has implemented, a social district,” Strickland said. “Our goal is for the social districts and the businesses within them to be safe and successful.”

WHAT IS A SOCIAL DISTRICT?

State law defines a social district as “A defined outdoor area in which a person may consume alcoholic beverages sold by a permittee.”

In this case, “permittees” include establishments that have been issued permits for on-premises malt beverages, unfortified and fortified wine as well as mixed beverage and distillery permits.

Participation in a social district is optional for businesses located within its boundaries.

SOCIAL DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS

The layout and operations of a social district must comply with several requirements listed in state law. Those requirements include:

  • Alcoholic beverages purchased in the social district must be consumed within the social district. Open beverages can be carried outside within the designated social district boundaries, and inside businesses that are participating in the district. Alcoholic beverages need to be carried in specially-branded cups that identify the business from which the beverage was purchased, as well as the social district in which it was purchased. As of Jan. 1, 2024, state law will require the containers to not be made of glass.
  • Social districts operate within specific time frames only. For example, Greenville’s two social districts will operate Thursday through Saturday from 5-10 p.m.
  • Social district boundaries are required to be “marked in a way that clearly indicates to customers where the boundaries of the designated consumption area are located, such as with conspicuous signage.”
  • Convenience stores located within a social district cannot sell alcoholic beverages to go. Participating businesses must have the required permits for on-site consumption to sell approved beverages within the social district.