Kinston city council looks at adding a social district

Kinston city council looks at adding a social district
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 9:12 PM EDT
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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Social districts are getting more popular since the state approved the idea in 2021. Now, another city here in the east is looking at adding one.

Kinston city council members will discuss the idea of adding a social district to the downtown area, allowing people to roam around with alcohol in a designated cup within a certain area.

“So we wanted to pursue the option and see what our community thinks about that, especially in downtown the bar areas,” said Kinston Mayor Don Hardy.

The social district would include signs showing the permitted area, allowing community members to mingle with cups of alcohol.

Right now, there is nothing set in stone, but the proposed area includes several streets in Downtown Kinston in the same area where the BBQ festival is held.

But some fear this could have a negative impact.

“Honestly, I feel like that’s very unsafe. Just the thought of people sitting outside in public and they’re drinking things, and just imagine the people that can’t control their alcohol,” said Briana Cogdell, a Kinston resident.

Forty-one cities have adopted a social district in North Carolina, including Greenville and Washington. With others in favor of the idea, hoping it may add to Kinston and the downtown area.

“It’s one of the things that you can do when I get a feel of what others think or any suggestions or recommendations from them, provided we move forward on the social district. I think people are leaning more towards it than not,” said Mayor Hardy.

The city council is also discussing the idea of downtown being the primary social district, with a second smaller one running along South Queen Street. I did try talking to a few businesses that serve alcohol in the area where the social district would go, but they weren’t available.

While this is only an idea right now, the council was strongly advised to allow the social district between 5 and 10 p.m. WITN also reached out to other cities, including New Bern and Jacksonville, but they said they are interested in a social district at this time.