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Franklin Social District to begin June 22

The Town of Franklin’s social district will be in effect beginning Saturday, June 22 at Noon.  All signage and boundary markers will be installed between June 3 and June 14, 2024.   There is an informational page that has been added to the Town’s website and a QR code on all of the various social district indicators.

In preparation for the social district, a listing of Frequently Asked Questions has been developed to share information with those who may not be familiar with the concept of social districts and to clarify how the Franklin Social District will operate. These FAQs are also available on the town’s website under the tabs of For Residents, For Businesses and For Visitors and is searchable.

What is a social district?  

A social district is a designated outdoor area where people can legally consume alcoholic beverages.  Social districts are regulated by the NC Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission and were approved by the NC Legislature in 2021.

How did the social district come to be?

The Franklin Town Council approved the Franklin Social District on January 2, 2024 meeting, a public hearing was held to gain public input related to a proposed social district.   After the public hearing, the Town Council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance creating a social district.

What does this mean for citizens and visitors to Franklin?  

Individuals who purchase specialized cups that have the social district logo and “Drink Responsibly – Be 21” can carry their purchased beverage on the sidewalks within the social district and into participating businesses.

What are the hours for the social district?  

The hours of operation for the district will be Noon until 9:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. At all other times, unless a permit has been obtained for a special event, consumption of alcohol on sidewalks and in public areas is prohibited.

How much are the social district cups?

The Franklin Social District cups are $4.00 each and are reusable.  ABC permittees must also place a sticker on the cup with the date prior to an individual leaving their establishment with a beverage.  If an individual goes to another establishment, re-uses their cup and wishes to take a beverage out into the social district, another sticker is added from the new location.

Can I bring my social district cup back on another date?

Yes, the social district cups are reusable.  You will have to get a new sticker on the cup with the new date when you purchase a beverage, but you will not have to pay for the cup again.

Who are the ABC Permittees in the social district?

The ABC permittees are the various businesses who have been approved for sale of alcohol by the NC ABC Commission and who have chosen to participate in the social district.  Signage indicating participation and location for sale of cups should be posted on the establishment.

Can I take my beverage into another ABC Permitted location?

No, the ordinance allows for carrying to another establishment, but the cup must be empty prior to entering another ABC permitted business.  For example: if you purchase a cup and beverage at Lazy Hiker, you must finish the beverage before entering the Rathskeller.

Can I bring my own alcoholic beverage into the social district?  

No, the ordinance allows for beverages to be purchased and consumed only within the boundaries of the social district within the specialized cup.  No outside alcohol is allowed.

Who gets the money from the social district cups?

The participating ABC Permittees will collect the money for the social district cups and it is part of their sales.  The funding stays with local businesses.

Can I take my social district cup into any business downtown?

No, you can only take beverages into those businesses who have chosen to allow beverages to be carried in.  Businesses within the social district will have appropriate signage indicating whether or not they wish to allow alcoholic beverages in their establishment.

Are there areas where social district cups and beverages are prohibited?

Yes, the squares downtown (Clock Tower, Gazebo and Rankin)will remain alcohol-free at all times as they are owned by Macon County, not the Town of Franklin, and are not included in the district.  This includes the benches at the Gazebo as they are not on the public sidewalks and any areas behind the fencing at Rankin and Clock Tower. The sidewalks that border all of the squares are included in the social district including the benches on the sidewalks.  Individuals who are observed taking their marked cups into these areas will be subject to fines.

How does this impact festivals and events?

Event sponsors will have the option to request that the social district be suspended during their events by indicating such on the street closure application that is available online.  The Town Council will consider the request at the same time as the street closure.   When streets are closed, the social district includes the closed streets and individuals can have social district cups on streets during the hours of the street closures.

How many social district towns are there?

There are currently 46 municipalities in the state with active social districts.  The social district concept is based in economic development principles to attract citizens and visitors to the downtown leading to increased foot-traffic and provide new revenue opportunities for restaurants and retail establishments.

How can I learn more about the social district?

The maintenance and operations plan is available online at https://franklinnc.com/franklin-nc-social-district.html or available in hard copy at Town Hall.  A QR code to this information is included with all boundary markers and signs within the social district or you can contact Town Hall at 828-524-2516.

The Town will hold an informational session at the Town Hall on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in the Town Hall Board Room beginning at 5:30 p.m. to answer questions related to the social district.

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