Canton debates alcohol policy at armory

A request to serve keg beer at an event in the Canton Armory prompted a broader discussion of the town’s alcohol policy at public venues it rents.


“We have to make sure everything is all legal and we’re exactly where we need to be,” said Alderwoman Carole Edwards. “Several things can go astray if we’re not completely legal with these things.”

The issue at hand was a wedding reception for the upcoming nuptials of Brittany Clark. The reception called for more than 300 people to be in attendance, with a request to be able to serve keg beer — an alcohol container not currently allowed in the armory. Clark had suggested kegs in an effort to streamline the cleanup process.

Interim Town Manager Jason Burrell told the board at a recent meeting glass bottles are currently allowed at the armory, but not kegs. He said glass bottles and containers are a safety concern the board should discuss. Members of the board noted how the bottles can be used as a weapon or can become a hazard if broken on the floor.

“I don’t have a problem with glass bottles,” Edwards said. “I guess if you want to whack someone upside the head with a bottle, I’m not for that, but what if you want to serve wine? They don’t have plastic wine bottles. We’ll make an exception for this event, and then look into the issue further.”

The board voted unanimously to allow Clark to have kegs at her reception, and also noted that a discussion on the alcohol ordinances on town property would take place at either the next meeting or at some point in the near future.

“Enjoy your wedding,” Mayor Mike Ray told Clark.


Serving the times

Following the meeting, Burrell said alcohol is allowed at the armory and at The Colonial Theatre, but with certain restrictions and guidelines that need to be met. Anyone using the armory with alcohol present must get an ABC permit by applying for it and submitting it to Raleigh. After that, there are costs involved with putting on an event. 

Burrell pointed to an event held at the armory last fall where the building was left a mess. Trash was strewn about and the town decided to modify its policies, which now call for an event to have one off-duty police officer hired per 100 people present, at a cost of $35 per hour. 

“After that event, questions came up to look at the policy to see if any aspects needed to be updated, or updated to keep up with the times,” Burrell said.

Beyond the off-duty officers, the cost for renting the armory also includes a fee of $330 for a five-hour use of fewer than 50 people ($442 for eight hours) and $380 for a five-hour use of over 50 people ($492 for eight hours). Both fees include a $100 cleaning deposit. If alcohol will be present, there’s a $500 cleaning deposit required as well, which includes setup, takedown and two cleaning personnel. 

But compared to Waynesville, Canton’s policies for alcohol on public property are more relaxed. 

As of now, anyone renting the Waynesville Armory will pay $30 an hour to use the gym, $18.50 an hour for the cafeteria, and $12.75 an hour for the classroom.

“But, there’s no alcohol allowed at the armory or the recreation center,” said Waynesville Parks and Recreation Director Rhett Langston.

For Maggie Valley, you can rent the pavilion beside town hall for $10 an hour (three-hour minimum) for the inside and $20 an hour (three-hour minimum) for the outside, but no alcohol is allowed. A $200 cleaning deposit is also added to the final cost, which can include heating. 

At the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, alcohol is allowed. Applicants must apply for and receive an ABC permit from Raleigh and at least one Maggie Valley police officer must be onsite while the festival grounds are open to the public.

“Splits on concessions will be negotiated with each event promoter and/or producer on a case-by-case basis,” the town application states about funds brought in from alcohol sales on the property.

In terms of Clark’s wedding, the town had already booked her celebration before the event last fall occurred when the building was trashed, which grouped her into the new requirements. That is why she came in front of the board asking to be able to use kegs.

“With the keg aspect of things, the recreation committee said it’s probably better picking up cups rather than bottles and cans,” Burrell said. “Ideas are also currently emerging to prohibit glass bottles, but there’s no decision yet.”


Public input

The Canton town board will hold another discussion on the alcohol policies at the armory and The Colonial Theatre at its upcoming meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 at town hall, with final decisions to most likely be made at a later date.

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