Local News

Rural Harnett Communities Face Wet, Dry Vote

Posted June 18, 2007 6:39 p.m. EDT

— Residents of three Harnett County communities will vote Tuesday on whether to allow beer and wine sales.

Buying beer or wine in rural parts of the county has long required a trip to town or across the county line.

Voters in the unincorporated areas of Anderson Creek, Upper Little River and Johnsonville could soon bring such sales to the neighborhood supermarket or convenience store. Liquor sales wouldn't be allowed, even if a community approves the referendum.

Gene Taylor, an Anderson Creek resident who describes himself as a "full-blown Baptist," said he's backing the alcohol vote for economic reasons.

"Look at the tax base. People are going to drink anyway. We're picking up the cans," Taylor said.

Supporters of the referendum said flowing taps mean flowing tax dollars and could lure new restaurants to the area.

"I think (any revenue generated) should go toward schools and the rebuilding of roads and different things to build this community up," resident Becky Foust said.

But some area residents said they want unincorporated Harnett County to remain dry.

"The community, I moved to it because it was a nice, friendly community -- down home," said Butch Abling, who has been passing out a flier that contends alcohol sales would brew higher crime rates and lower property values. “Expansion is a good thing, but I prefer it to be a friendly type expansion."

Like most counties across North Carolina, Harnett County has an elaborate cocktail of local ordinances governing alcohol sales.

Four mountain counties are completely dry, while 16 other counties across the state -- Wake, Durham, Orange and Cumberland counties are among them -- have no restrictions in alcohol sales.

“We don’t need something that you can actually go three or four miles down the road to get,” says Bart Dillow, the manager of Tiger’s Restaurant in Anderson Creek, referring to Cumberland County and the town of Spring Lake.

"If we put it out here, we're just going to have more drunks on the roads, more bars are going to pop up, and our kids are going to be more in danger down here," he said.

The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.