The young town of Archer Lodge might soon be old enough to drink.
Currently, no alcohol of any kind is available within the town limits, but voters could see a referendum on the November ballot to open the town to beer, wine and liquor by the drink.
During its meeting last week, the Archer Lodge Town Council discussed allowing alcohol sales in town, with members favoring putting a referendum before voters for beer, wine and mixed-drink sales. However, council members said they did not want an ABC store.
“Johnston County is still a dry county,” town attorney Chip Hewett said. “It’s kind of a forgotten fact, but it’s still a reality. Each individual town can allow voters to decide for themselves if they want to allow alcohol sales. We can put it on the November ballot, if the council wants that.”
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With two breweries, a handful of ABC stores and a healthy market for beer and wine, Johnston County feels anything but dry. The vast majority of North Carolina counties leave alcohol sales up to their towns. Graham County in Western North Carolina is the only true dry county in the Tar Heel State, and conversely, neighboring Wake County is one of the few totally wet counties.
Mayor Mike Gordon said residents had expressed interest in buying alcohol closer to town. Grocery stores in Clayton and Flowers Plantation are the closest places to town for buying beer and wine. The council didn’t seem interested in opening itself up to an ABC store, with one already at Buffalo Road and N.C. 42.
“The only way to let people choose if they want alcohol in town is to let them vote,” Gordon said. “This may help bring business to Archer Lodge. It maybe help bring a restaurant or something to Archer Lodge; I know that’s a big part of the decision for them. Craft beer is also big right now, and there are already breweries nearby.”
Hewett said the council had until April to decide whether to placer a referendum on the November ballot. A simple majority would decide the issue.
With a presidential race this fall, Gordon expects many voters will come to the polls, ensuring that the alcohol vote the town will represent the wishes of a majority of residents.
“It should be a big turnout,” he said.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson