Topsail Beach officials push for referendum on beer-by the-glass sales

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 05:56 PM.

Topsail Beach commissioners are sticking with their earlier request that Pender County hold a referendum in May on whether to expand current rules pertaining beer-by-the-glass sales.

Commissioners on Feb. 19 said they felt enough steps are in place to ensure unlicensed bars would not be able to obtain permits, but the board will explore ways it may be able to help prevent possible problems, a concern recently raised by Pender County Sheriff Carson Smith.

Smith’s concerns prompted Pender County commissioners to reconsider their previous decision to hold a referendum on whether establishments other than hotels, motels and restaurants be allowed to apply for permits to sell beer by the glass for on-premises consumption.

Pender commissioners asked the town to look at options outside of a countywide referendum.

The town doesn’t have enough full-time residents the state requires to have its own vote on the matter so officials there last year asked the county to hold a referendum on the May 6, 2014 ballot.

Topsail commissioners made the request after discovering that establishments that are allowed to sell wine by the glass are not allowed to serve “malt beverages” by the glass.

The issue came to light after a local business – Quarter Moon Bookstore – was informed by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission that its permit to sell beer by the glass had been incorrectly issued.

The bookstore’s owner, Lori Fisher, applied for and received the permit last April, allowing her to sell beer, a request she regularly received from customers who prefer that beverage over wine. The state called in July to say the permit was invalid.

An establishment seeking an ABC permit must be inspected and approved by a variety of agencies, including local law enforcement, Topsail officials said.

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