RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/ WNCN) – Buying alcohol on Sunday mornings can now be a reality in some North Carolina locales.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 155, or the “Brunch Bill,” into law Friday, his office confirmed.
County commissioners and city councils can now pass ordinances allowing restaurants and retailers to sell alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays, instead of noon.
Soon after the governor’s announcement, Carrboro aldermen announced a special meeting Monday at 6 p.m. to vote on allowing earlier sales on Sundays.
“Everyone should be able to make their own choices about when and where they want to consume, and Sunday brunch is a popular international time to actually eat and drink,” said Scott Maitland, proprietor of Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill.
The bill drew opposition from religious groups, including the Christian Action League.
M.H. Cavanaugh wrote on the group’s website, “SB 155 would allow for the repeal of North Carolina’s current law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages before the noon hour on Sundays – a law that has always shown deference and respect to churches who rarely ever finish all of their services before noontime. This legislation begs the question: Where is this respect now?”
CBS North Carolina has been reaching out to leaders in communities throughout the region to see what they plan to do in response to the new law.
Council member Charlie Reece says, “I’ve asked our city attorney to prepare a draft ordinance permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays within the city of Durham pursuant to SB 155, and it is my hope that the council can consider such an ordinance when we return from our summer break. If and when such a draft ordinance is considered, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback before any action is taken.”
The city council’s next scheduled meeting is a work session on July 27.
“This will be listed as a future Town Council agenda item – possibly for September 6, the Council’s next business meeting. The Town Attorney will oversee the needed procedural steps so that the Council will be in a position to enact an ordinance that night, if it chooses to do so, assuming the bill becomes law,” said Catherine Lazorko, communications director for the Town of Chapel Hill.
Aldermen called a special meeting for Monday, July 3, at 6 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall to vote on allowing sales to begin at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
City spokesman John Boyette says he hasn’t heard of any plans for a vote. The mayor and city council members did not respond to an email seeking comment.
“In speaking with our Intergovernmental Relations Manager Lana Hygh, she has confirmed that the state has given Town Councils the authority to vote to allow alcohol to be served at 10 a.m. instead of noon on Sundays. That said, a staff report to our Council with a recommendation has not been developed yet. We will be discussing internally and how to proceed and at what pace,” said town spokeswoman Susan Moran.
“We’re beginning to explore this. There is nothing scheduled on the agenda yet (too soon), but once this bill is signed into law, I expect we’ll propose some adjustments to our ordinances that as a result,” said Mayor Lance Olive.
The town council meets again July 18.
Two city council members, Bill Crisp and Jim Arp, told CBS North Carolina as this issue was being debated that they oppose allowing alcohol sales to begin before noon.
Crisp said, “I strongly believe noon is time enough for folks to start getting drunk on Sunday. It is the Sabbath, what we need is to encourage folks to go to church again and ‘restore’ moral values in their children. Alcohol before noon? Sales are alive and well and noon does not appreciably hurt distilleries.”
“The Board of Commissioners will review the bill and any possible local amendments once it is signed into law,” said town public affairs director Bill Crabtree.
Jennifer Weaver of the Town Board tweeted this late Friday: “Hillsb Town Board will consider ordinance to allow #SundayBrunch alcohol sales directly prior to joint public hearing w/Planning on 7/21.”