Manteo commissioners move forward with a social district

Published 8:09 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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The Town of Manteo is fast-tracking consideration of a social district for its downtown.

At the March 15, 2023 Board of Commissioners meeting, town manager Melissa Dickerson started her presentation with stating that people are already permitted to walk around with beverage in a cup.

The town has an ordinance, but the state’s General Assembly superseded that local ordinance in September 2021 and again in July 2022.

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So, to keep doing what the town’s residents and visitors have already been doing, the town needs to create a social district.

Some 30 towns have already created social districts, which originally were created to lure people back to downtowns after COVID, Dickerson said.

The town’s Mainstreet Advisory Board at a March 9 meeting recommended the Board of Commissioners adopt a social district and use the existing boundary lines of the B-1 Village Business District.

The B-1 District includes both sides of Queen Elizabeth Ave., the water side of Croatan Ave., both sides of Budleigh St. stopping before reaching U.S. 64, both sides of Ananias Dare to Eleanor Dare St., both sides of Sir Walter Raleigh and Agona St., to Essex Ave., or a lot beyond, and Fernando St. past the curve.

Dickerson laid out next steps for pursuing creation of a social district.

First, staff will inquire of businesses within the proposed boundary about interest in participating in the social district

Next, town attorney Ben Gallop will draft an ordinance.

The board would consider that ordinance at its April 5 meeting.

If the ordinance passes, the staff will register the Town of Manteo’s social district with the ABC Commission on April 6. The staff will then distribute required materials to businesses located within the boundary on April 6 and April 7, which is the initial First Friday event of the 2023 season.

At a special public comment time, Jamie Anderson, owner of Downtown Books and a member of the Mainstreet Advisory Board, urged the commissioners to “get this done and done quickly.”

She also told the commissioners that March 15 was the 11th anniversary of Downtown Books. She thanked the town, residents, loyal customers and many others for believing in her dream and recognizing the importance of an independent bookstore locally owned.