social district, Fayetteville

The Fayetteville City Council will meet Monday for its regularly scheduled meeting. On the agenda are two important decisions that need to be made:

(1) A motion to reconsider a contract with ShotSpotter, the gunshot detection service.

(2) The creation of a new social district downtown, a designated area where alcohol can be purchased from a licensed ABC permittee and then taken outdoors.

ShotSpotter

At a council meeting in August, Mayor Mitch Colvin and council member Kathy Jensen stated that ShotSpotter was a technology that would help to reduce crime in Fayetteville. Violent crime in the city had risen in the past year and was among the highest rates in North Carolina, CPP reported in March.

ShotSpotter is a gunshot detection system. The company uses acoustic sensors, which are placed in a 3-square-mile area, that use artificial intelligence to detect and report gunshots to the local police. The ShotSpotter website states that with the technology, police can respond to gunshots in less than a minute.

The city hasn’t yet determined where the 3-square-mile area would be in Fayetteville.

Other cities in Eastern North Carolina use ShotSpotter’s technology, such as Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Greenville and Wilmington, The Associated Press reported. Durham and Winston-Salem have approved contracts with the company, according to reporting from CBS17 and WXII12.

The one-year, $197,500 contract, obtained from the agenda for Monday’s meeting, with ShotSpotter was initially approved by the Fayetteville City Council in August, despite concerns of the technology’s effectiveness from council members Mario Benavente and Shakeyla Ingram, Carolina Public Press reported.

In September, amid calls from Benavente and other council members, the City Council reconsidered the city’s contract with ShotSpotter. That vote tied 5-5, resulting in no firm direction for the city, CPP reported.

At tonight’s meeting, the council will once again consider the contract with the hopes of coming to a majority agreement. One of three things could happen.

(1) If the contract is approved, the city will go ahead with ShotSpotter’s services.

(2) If the contract is not approved, the city will not spend the $197,500, and there won’t be any gunshot detection services from ShotSpotter used in Fayetteville.

(3) If the vote ties again, the City Council will have to decide the fate of the contract at a future meeting. There is no concrete deadline for when the contract must be approved.

While there is no public hearing on this decision, community members can share their opinions on ShotSpotter by signing up to speak at Monday’s public forum here.

Social district public hearing

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council is holding a public hearing before deciding on the creation of a new social district for downtown Fayetteville.

Other cities across North Carolina have their own social districts such as Raleigh and Charlotte. Durham and Greensboro have designated outdoor drinking areas as well, according to reporting from Spectrum News 1. Social districts are possible in North Carolina because the state legislature passed H.B. 890 last year.

When Raleigh created its own social district in August, city leaders stated earlier, as set out on the city’s website, that social districts are “a valuable tool in increasing economic activity and vibrancy” in downtown areas.

A social district is a state-defined outdoor area where people can drink alcoholic beverages outside from participating restaurants and bars. The outdoor area is limited to a specific boundary.

Fayetteville’s boundary would extend from Winslow Street to the intersection of Otis F. Jones Parkway and Bow Street. The area is centered near downtown’s primary business district, aligning Hay Street and Person Street.

Drinks must be consumed in a specific social district cup that participating restaurants and bars will provide. Drinks cannot be carried to another location that serves alcohol. Any retail business must approve of drinks being carried inside their establishment.

Participating bars and restaurants in downtown Fayetteville would include Bright Light Brewing Co., Antonella’s Italian Ristorante and Gaston Brewing Co., among others.

According to the ordinance drafted by Fayetteville city staff, the social district for downtown would operate Friday and Saturday from noon-10 p.m.

Click here to sign up to speak at the public hearing.

Ben Sessoms

Ben Sessoms is a Carolina Public Press staff writer based in Fayetteville. Send an email to bsessoms@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.

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