Alcohol policy tabled, speed limits to be studied

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Staff photo by Joshua Curry 

North Carolina state law requires drivers to maintain a speed of 25 mph in a  road construction zone on state roads.

One of the first issues the new Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen will consider after the November elections is the town’s policy on the prohibition of alcohol on town-owned property. At the board of aldermen’s Thursday, Aug. 8 meeting, the proposition of allowing alcohol at events on town property and sanctioned by the town was discussed but set for an agenda item at the board’s annual retreat to be held at the beginning of 2014.

Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti asked that a discussion of the town’s no alcohol policy be placed on the board’s Aug. 8 agenda because of concerns he had with certain regular events that take place on town property ignoring the ordinance. While not wanting the Wrightsville Beach Police Department to enforce the town’s alcohol ordinances more stringently at events like Lobsterfest and the Sounds of Summer concerts, Cignotti also said he realized the double standard puts the WBPD in an awkward position. 

“We brought this up because we have some events … where we say on paper that you can’t have alcohol but it puts the police in a weird predicament when we say just don’t bother anyone as long as everyone is behaving themselves,” Cignotti said. “We are not trying to do away with these things, we are trying to keep what we have and make it legal.” 

Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House echoed Cignotti’s concerns and suggested that the board either allow or not allow alcohol at such events. 

“It is extremely problematic for us when you figure last year we wrote 1,770 civil citations on the beach and the vast majority of them were alcohol or glass related, but we are being asked to avoid these areas,” House said. “Keep it consistent.” 

House said his department would support a permitting process by which event organizers could secure alcohol permits from the town. 

With the Sounds of Summer concert series concluded for the year and Lobsterfest held annually in June, the board chose to wait until the retreat to discuss the town’s alcohol ordinances. 

A decision about speed limits on and around the Heide Trask Drawbridge will also be delayed until next year after the board of aldermen agreed to ask the North Carolina Department of Transportation to study the functionality of the current speed limits. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson said he knew NCDOT would not complete the study until after the ongoing renovations of the drawbridge are completed, which is scheduled for Spring 2014. 

Both Aldermen Darryl Mills and Alderwoman Susan Collins said they had not heard any support for lowering the speed limits on the drawbridge or on the west side of the drawbridge but they would support the study. 

Better bike and pedestrian paths on the east side of the drawbridge may also be coming soon if the town’s submitted plan for those projects is approved for funding by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. The WMPO has $222,151 in Transportation Alternative Program-Direct Attributable funds for this round of grants with all projects approved requiring a minimum local match of 20 percent of the grant amount.

The project approved for submittal by the board of aldermen has a total estimated cost of $143,500 for a variety of multi-use path improvements from the eastern base of the drawbridge to Keel Street. The 20 percent local match for the project would be $28,700 if approved. 

Sisson, who is a member of the WMPO Transportation Advisory Committee, said the town would likely find out this fall if the grant were approved. 

The board approved the submittal of the project by a vote of 4-1 with Alderwoman Elizabeth King voting against. 


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