Mecklenburg commissioners unanimously pass the ‘brunch bill’ for unincorporated areas

Mecklenburg commissioners unanimously pass the ‘brunch bill’ for unincorporated areas

CHARLOTTE, NC (Jamie Gwaltney/The Charlotte Observer) - "See you all for Bloody Marys on Sunday," joked the Mecklenburg County commissioners after they voted unanimously to allow alcohol sales before noon on Sunday in unincorporated parts of Mecklenburg County.

Last month North Carolina legislators passed the "brunch bill," which allows cities and counties to pass local ordinances allowing Sunday alcohol sales starting at 10 a.m. rather than noon. The law also allows retail stores and grocery stores to sell alcohol on Sunday morning.

The Huntersville Board of Commissioners also voted Tuesday to allow Sunday morning alcohol sales, making it the first town in the county to approve the change.

"Enjoy your Sunday mornings," Mayor John Aneralla said to laughter from the audience. "I don't know if the churches will be happy with that, but Huntersville is the first in Mecklenburg."

Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour said the unincorporated part of Mecklenburg County is larger than some may think.

"I think there are going to be a lot of folks in the hospitality industry and retailers who will be very excited to see this question through," Ridenhour said. He said there are advantages from an economic perspective.

Commissioner Vilma Leake said she has heard concerns from religious leaders about selling on Sunday and concerns about drinking and driving.

"I don't want the public to perceive that if we pass this that we have no respect for what it has done in our community," Leake said.

The Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League is an outspoken opponent of the bill.

"The reason for the law prohibiting alcohol sales until after the noon hour on Sundays has largely been out of deference and respect for churches that do not end all of their services before noontime," Creech said.