Liquor sales approved for 10 a.m. Sundays

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Wilson city councilmen were thinking about the future when they approved several items Thursday, including authorizing businesses to sell liquor two hours earlier on Sundays.

“We’ll see you at 10:01 a.m. Sunday,” said Carolina Cheese Co. co-owner Richard Millinder shortly after the council approved the ordinance.

Millinder and co-owner Mike Moore relaunched the Brentwood eatery for lunch in January and soon added dinner and Sunday brunch. Millinder said he’s had customers frequently asking for mimosas, but state law barred him from selling any before noon without approval from local officials. He came before the council in March to ask about approving an ordinance that would allow sales starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays, and during Thursday’s meeting, the council approved it without any discussion.

“I just think it is a positive step for Wilson,” Millinder said. “It keeps us in line with other counties around us that have passed it. It was supported by the General Assembly, Gov. Roy Cooper, and I think it will generate extra revenue that will help our community continue to grow and progress.”

Cooper signed the “brunch bill” allowing local approval of 10 a.m. Sunday alcohol sales on June 30, 2017. Previously, state law restricted the sale of alcoholic beverages to Sunday afternoons. Several cities and towns passed ordinances green-lighting Sunday morning sales in the month following the law’s passage.

Also during the meeting, the council approved the reauthorization of incentive grants for downtown redevelopment.

“We had a policy adopted almost five years ago that was an incentive for very large projects of at least $500,000. It was done in cooperation with the county where, just like industrial grants, we can give tax incentives to projects like Whirligig Station and the redevelopment of Cherry Hotel,” said Rodger Lentz, chief planning and development officer. “That five years is coming to an end, so this would renew that program for a similar term.”

The proposal also added two opportunity zones adjacent to downtown that would be eligible for the grants.

“For example, if a property is paying $50,000 in property taxes before renovation and that work would increase their taxes to $300,000, this program says that 80% of that $250,000 in new taxes would be used in a grant to offset the cost of renovating the structure,” Lentz said. “The city would immediately gain new revenue, and after the five years, you’d get all the taxes generated by the project.”

Barry Parks, director of water resources, also gave a short presentation during the meeting about flood mitigation plans for the Wiggins Mill raw water pump station. He said the station was damaged during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Crews have had to stack sandbags during numerous other storms as well in an attempt to protect the electrical equipment.

“We’re going to construct a new building above the 500-year flood elevation and move all the vulnerable equipment,” Parks said.

The motors for the pumps at Wiggins Mill will remain in the old building but will also be raised to the 500-year flood elevation. The roughly $3 million project will be spread out over several budgets.

The station pumps raw water to the city’s plants for treatment into drinking water.

Also during the meeting, officials declared April 8-12 as Week of the Young Child, April as Fair Housing Month, May as Bicycle Safety Month and May 2 as the National Day of Prayer.