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Kannapolis to serve beer at summer concerts

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — Concerts in Kannapolis’ Village Park this summer will offer a new refreshment option: cold beer.
The Kannapolis City Council voted to allow beer and wine sales at concerts in the park.
Kannapolis Parks and Recreation will oversee the placement of a beer garden — an enclosed area separate from the existing concession sales — where alcohol could be sold and consumed.
Currently, alcohol is not permitted on the lawn at concerts, though Parks and Recreation Director Gary Mills acknowledged that booze finds its way into the park in concertgoers’ coolers.
Mills said the beer garden will help end that problem and keep alcohol away from family seating areas.
Not everyone was convinced. Mayor Bob Misenheimer said he was concerned alcohol sales would hurt Village Park’s family-friendly atmosphere.
But the policy passed on a 5-to-2 vote, with Misenheimer and Councilman Roger Haas opposing the measure.
Haas then put forth an amendment limiting alcohol sales to Village Park’s summer events.
The policy as originally worded would have allowed alcohol sales at any city-sponsored event.
Haas said he’d like to see alcohol sales start small, then expand if successful.
The amendment passed on a 4-to-3 vote, with councilmen Darrell Hinnant, Tom Kincaid and Randy Cauthen voting against.
Under the new policy, people who want to buy beer or wine must show valid ID and receive a wristband.
They’ll then stay inside of the enclosed beer garden area to drink.
Only one alcoholic beverage can be purchased at a time.
Alcohol sales will stop an hour before the end of the event.
No one under 21 will be allowed inside the alcohol serving area, not even Parks and Recreation staff members.
Mills said all staff involved with alcohol service would receive North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control training via a course he has already completed.
These policies, he said, are similar to those already used in Concord.
Mills said many visitors and event sponsors had requested that alcohol be sold at concerts.
According to figures provided to council members, the city could earn as much as $2,300 per concert in profits from beer and wine sales.
Visitors will still be able to bring coolers with food and non-alcoholic drinks to concerts, Mills said.
Cauthen asked whether park staff would begin searching coolers to keep illicit alcohol out.
“They could be giving it away to underage people,” Cauthen said.
“To me, I see the strong selling point (of the beer garden) is to cut down the amount that’s actually out where the families are.”
Mills said he would explore strategies to stop alcohol from coming into the park.
Linwood-based Silver Eagle, LLC has offered to be the city’s alcohol supplier this year in exchange for promotional consideration, Mills said.
Still, Misenheimer said he fears that alcohol sales could have a detrimental impact on the city’s popular summer events.
“I’m afraid we’re opening a can of worms we don’t want to open up,” Misenheimer said.


In other action
In other business before the Kannapolis City Council:
• Council members voted unanimously to adopt the revised Center City Master Plan.
The document provides guidance on land use, economic development and transportation policies, and has been under discussion by lawmakers and the public for months.
Among the recommendations that Planning Director Ben Warren said could be implemented quickly are reduction of the speed limit on Loop Road/Dale Earnhardt Boulevard and changes in zoning requested by property owners downtown.
The plan also calls for creation of a commission to help put those recommendations into effect.
• A public hearing on the proposed voluntary annexation of about 96 acres of property on N.C. 73 was continued until the May 9 meeting, by unanimous vote.
The hearing was officially opened last month, then continued to allow time to complete paperwork pertaining to permits on the site.
Planning Director Ben Warren said that process was not yet finished.
The land would be the site of a proposed Catholic high school to be built and operated by the Diocese of Charlotte.
• Council members unanimously approved an agreement with Sunoco Recycling for the material the city will collect when a new curbside recycling program rolls out on July 1.
Under the agreement, negotiated in conjunction with the City of Concord, Sunoco will pay up to $20 per ton of recycled goods, less the cost of removing any non-recyclable items, such as trash, that are mixed into the bins.
Public Works Director Wilmer Melton said the previous contract only paid a flat rate of $10 per ton.
The higher amount will be paid based on market value of recyclable materials, such as aluminum, that may go up or down over time.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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