CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — More details have emerged on the proposed social district for Plaza Midwood.
Plaza neighborhood leaders urged Charlotte City Council Monday night to approve the application, while most of the concerns from a single member surrounded safety and policing disorderly conduct. The district would allow patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages from participating businesses and walk within the boundary with them.
The district, proposed by the Plaza Midwood Merchants’ Association, would run along the Central Avenue business corridor between Louise Avenue and Morningside Drive. In total, the plan covers 44 acres and 1.23 miles.
Casey Mashburn with Charlotte Department of Transportation said that the city’s social districts would be unlike others formed in the area. There are 32 currently in North Carolina, but all are established by the municipalities themselves and are in the central business area.
In Charlotte, many neighborhoods have demonstrated interest, with Plaza’s coming directly from its business owners — who often are also residents.
There has been the required support from the surrounding areas. Those include the Commonwealth-Morningside and Chantilly neighborhood organizations, Mashburn said.
Two members of the PMMA let their voices be heard, including Russell Ferguson.
“We’re a merchants association with people who run businesses and live in neighborhood,” he said. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll be the first to know.”
Council member LaWana Mayfield expressed concern about patrons from the social district potentially becoming unruly.
“How are our current ordinances going to be solidified and enforced when we are already having challenges with events happening around our city without having a specific social district?” she posed.
Mashburn noted that other laws, like for public intoxication, aren’t changing within the district. In addition to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police in the area, there would be a neighborhood liaison to make sure patrons are informed of the boundaries and policies.
“Our conversations have circled around ‘we are going to enforce the rules as we can,’” he said. “You cannot purchase another type of beverage. CMPD will enforce within their means and mechanisms.”
Council member Dante Anderson said the cups used will be stainless steel, and the participating businesses will put a tag showing the time and the place each cup was purchased. The material is intended to help with sustainability and reduce litter.
“The applicant has to agree they will be responsible for trash related to social district,” Mashburn said.
The district would operate Monday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
PMMA Executive Director Jason Michel also spoke earlier with Queen City News about the proposal.
“We take a lot of pride in being a widely diverse community with people from all across the spectrum of humanity,” he told the council. “We see this kind of activity as a way to see people move about… have community celebrations with ease. I hope we get to be the first.”
Organizations from several other neighborhoods, like South End and NoDa, have submitted pre-applications, but Plaza has reached the farthest step in the process.
The council could vote on the district as early as Oct. 23.