NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Social districts continue to be a huge topic of discussion for communities throughout North Carolina, including in Eastern North Carolina. However, one city put the idea aside a few months ago and now some are wanting to revisit the option. 

Several business owners have mixed feelings on the idea of a social district still, but one who’s all for it created a petition.

“There’s a lot of us that really want to see this come to light,” said Brad Poirier, owner of Bear City Impact and creator of the petition. “We think it’s a great economic benefit for New Bern.”

He said that so far, there’s already been a lot of interest.

“We’ve collected more than 30 signatures from downtown business owners that have signed ink, and just said, ‘hey, you know what, I’m in support of the social district’,” said Poirier.

Over 250 residents have signed as well.

Poirier hopes that with the option to sip and stroll, businesses in the area will get the boost they need.

“What we found through all the research is that there’s an average of a 10% lift in foot traffic because people are just kind of moseying along,” said Poirier.

Some people still have mixed opinions.

“A social district does not control what they’re going to do, it gives them an amenity,” said Poirier. “It is still that person’s choice to over drink, properly drink or not drink at all, it’s just giving them an amenity of where they can drink.”

Another business owner in the area said she also understands the cons.

“I’ve had some recent conversations with people about it,” said Gail Brisbee, owner of The Last Detail. “They’re concerned about litter, they’re concerned about people walking up and down the street after they are inebriated. Those are the kinds of things that may happen anyway.”

Brisbee also said she sees the benefit to the economy and for new visitors.

“They are coming to New Bern because they love the atmosphere and they really like the mood here, so I think enhancing that would be great,” said Brisbee.

There will be a meeting with city officials, business owners, and residents about the social district in the coming weeks. For more information on social districts, click here.