This spring people will be able to wander around State Street with an alcoholic beverage in hand, following a 5-3 vote by the Greensboro City Council at the Dec. 20 meeting.

Councilmember Zack Matheny was absent.  Mayor Nancy Vaughan announced that Councilmember Sharon Hightower, who participated remotely, voted no, but there was no display of the vote at the meeting and Vaughan did not announce how other councilmembers voted.  Tuesday, Dec. 27 is a city holiday, so the vote total is not currently available from the city clerk’s office.

The official term for an area where people can legally leave one establishment with an alcoholic beverage and walk to another one is a “social district.”  The City Council established a social district in downtown Greensboro beginning on March 1.

Vaughan asked that the establishment of the social district on State Street be delayed until April 1.  The ordinance in the agenda packet set the date for the State Street social district to go into effect as Dec. 21.  The motion to delay the implementation of the State Street social district until April 1 appeared to pass with seven affirmative votes.  It was unclear how Hightower voted.

Vaughan said that since the establishment of the downtown social district, “Downtown businesses noticed an increase in their business.”

Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said that her research had shown that places that had established social districts, “Many of them have had to spend more resources particularly on public safety.”

Police Chief John Thompson said, “There have been no reported incidents related to the social district downtown.”

He added, “There is nothing to indicate that there has been any negative impact from the downtown social district.”

However, Hightower said that the police would have to devote more officers to the State Street social district.

Hightower also said, “Somebody else in another area of the city is going to say they want a social district and they are going to apply.”

She added, “My concern is that we are opening up Pandora’s box.”

Councilmembers Tammi Thurm and Hugh Holston both spoke in favor of the State Street social district.

Dr. Mary Ann Contogiannis, who is the owner of the Renaissance Center for Plastic Surgery & Wellness at 211 State St., spoke against the establishment of the social district, as did two of her employees.