The NAACP chapters in York County are opposing a Nov. 6 referendum to allow convenience stores and groceries in the county to sell beer and wine on Sunday.
The chapters are concerned the sales would increase the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol, increase underage drinking, strain law enforcement efforts and increase alcohol abuse among families.
They also claim the referendum is misleading because it does not mention the words “Sunday sales.”
The Committee of Citizens & Business for York County sponsored the referendum, gathering more than 9,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Chet Miller of the committee said the issue is economics, allowing people to buy locally and not have to travel to Charlotte. The committee estimates the county would net about $200,000 annually if all of the eligible stores sought licenses.
That figure does not include what York County would collect in increased sales tax.
The referendum represents the last of several efforts by the committee to remove “Blue Laws” that once restricted Sunday commerce in many parts of the country.
In 2006, Rock Hill voters approved the on-premise sale of beer and wine. In 2008, York County voters approved the on-premise sale of beer and wine in restaurants, and Tega Cay voters approved the Sunday sales of beer and wine.
‘A less desirable place’
Melvin Poole, president of the Rock Hill chapter of the NAACP, said, “The county will make $200,000 in license fees, that’s less than $1 per resident. It’s hardly enough to cover the cost of alcohol-related tragedies.”
He said if the Committee of Citizens & Business for York County’s goal is to make the county a better place it should put it efforts elsewhere. “Twenty-four hour beer sales make York County a less desirable place.”
Dennis Wilson, president of the western York County chapter of the NAACP, said, more beer and wine sales would result in more disruption, “more tragedy connected with drinking.”
The NAACP is trying to get its message out via emails and through churches.
The Rev. Mike O’Dell of the York County Baptist Association said the association has not taken a position on the referendum, but was expected to discuss it. He said if pastors choose to speak on the issue, they will speak against the referendum.
York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said in a release his department “will enforce the laws people decide they want to have, and if the people vote for Sunday sales, that it is their choice”
“I agree with the people who think we can go one day without it, but on the other hand, I must think of the number of people who (may already being drinking) take to the roads and drive to Charlotte and back to buy alcohol, and that local sales might help cut down on the amount of time these folks are on the road under the influence.”
What’s on the ballot
The York County referendum question to allow off-premise sales of beer and wine at convenience stores and groceries reads:
“Shall the Department of Revenue be authorized to issue temporary permits in this county for a period not to exceed twenty-four hours to allow the sale of beer and wine at permitted off-premises locations without regard to the days or hours of sales?
A “yes” vote is in favor of Sunday beer and wine sales.