By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
May 27, 2016
TAYLORSVILLE – Wednesday evening, Alexander County Commissioners passed a resolution asking the North Carolina General Assembly to determine a means for allowing Wittenburg Township to have an alcohol election.
The resolution noted that during the last alcohol election in 2013, the Wittenburg Township, which is mostly comprised of the Bethlehem and Wittenburg districts, overwhelmingly supported county-wide alcohol sales. Because the county voted it down, the resolution alleges the Wittenburg Township is losing positive tax and business opportunities.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved,” says the resolution, “that the Alexander County Board of Commissioners does hereby request the NC General Assembly pass legislation to clarify existing laws and give the Wittenburg Township alone the right to hold an ABC Referendum in the precincts comprising of the Wittenburg Township only.”
Jeff Chapman, pastor of Little River Baptist Church, Taylorsville, and president of Alexander Citizens for Faith and Family Values, said that the 4-1 vote by a Republican controlled board of commissioners was disappointing.
Chapman complained commissioners called for a vote on the resolution during a night when mid-week prayer meeting services on Wednesday were taking place. “We were made aware that commissioners would take up the alcohol resolution at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through a press release by the Taylorsville Times,” he said. “That gave us only 30.5 hours for us to mobilize and prepare. Pretty dirty in my opinion.”
He added that despite only learning about the resolution literally at the 11th hour, opposition was still strong considering the circumstances. “Besides being a normal prayer meeting night, there were 7 pastors in attendance as well as 4 churches that moved their prayer meeting to the county commissioners meeting to show their displeasure,” said Chapman.
Chapman added that he knew that many citizens were already contacting Sen. Andy Wells (R) and Rep. Lee Zachary (R), the county’s state representatives, to urge them not to act on the resolution.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he’s heard the frustrations expressed by business owners and community leaders, like the people in Wittenburg Township, before. They feel the current law is unfair, and they want it amended to accommodate them.
“But the law is fair,” said Dr. Creech. “These fences were established years ago to make certain that as the prospect for alcohol sales grew, communities were given ample time to prepare to deal with the additional social costs. The research from many decades is undeniably clear, if you increase alcohol outlet density you are going to drive up consumption rates and thereby increase alcohol related problems, and that will involve more people than just those in the Wittenburg district. Wittenburg is not an island to itself. So it will impact all the county’s citizens,” he said.
Dr. Creech explained that one of the problems a township election poses, if passed, is a law enforcement question. “Who provides policing for the inevitable increase in alcohol related crimes? Townships do not have police departments. So the responsibility falls on the already overburdened county Sheriff’s Departments,” he argued.
Dr. Creech also contended making a means for the people of Wittenburg Township to vote on their own referendum would no nothing to create parity. It would only create a special privilege that other businesses in outlying county areas might also want to have but can’t. It only exacerbates the unfairness they claim should be eliminated.”
The resolution maintains approval of a township election would result in job creation, new businesses and restaurants locating within the Wittenburg district, stimulation of the local economy, and much needed sales tax revenue.
Dr. Creech said such arguments have long been debunked by the science. “It’s a false hope and a promise that never delivers. Alcohol is never a boon to any economy, but always a drain,” he said.
The Christian Action League will watch closely to see what legislation might develop during the current session of the North Carolina General Assembly.
“Alexander citizens should stay tuned to us,” said Dr. Creech.