A group of Easley residents upset over the new outdoor dining ordinance plan to attend the meeting and speak out against the controversial measure.
“It’s kind of up in the air as to how many people will attend,” said Scott Willis, one of the group. “I’m sure there will be a good number. We’re hoping that anyone who shares our opinion will come and let their voices be heard.”
Willis, the public morals director for the Piedmont Baptist Association, said his group has no problem with outdoor dining. But the group opposes the serving of beer and wine outdoors downtown.
For Willis, it is simply a matter of limiting people’s choices.
“If I’m walking downtown and I pass a place that serves alcohol, I have the choice as to whether or not I want to go inside that business,” Willis said. “But if the alcohol is being served outside, I feel like that choice is being taken away from me.”
Brian Hale said that the passing of the first reading of the ordinance caught many by surprise.
“The more I asked around about it, the more it seemed that very few people knew about this issue,” Hale said. “Well, the word is spreading and the citizens of Easley are not too happy.”
Hale said he has seen a petition against the ordinance that has more than 1,000 signatures.
“It’s a bad step,” Hale said. “A step in the wrong direction.”
Hale’s concerned include the image the ordinance give to children.
“The message that will be sent to our youth is that we not only approve of alcohol as a city, but that we flaunt it on our sidewalks, then tell them how bad it is for them,” Hale said. “What a mixed message.”
Hale feels that allowing sales of beer and wine outdoors will eventually lead to alcohol being served on the streets at the city festivals.
“They (proponents of ordinance) keep telling me it won’t lead to that, but you know it will,” Hale said. “Budweiser already sponsors events in downtown Greenville. You know they’d love to get their hands on Easley too.”
Hale said too many people are trying to make Easley more like Greenville.
“If we wanted to live in a place like Greenville, we would move to Greenville,” Hale said.
Hale also noted that the ordinance would only affect five percent of the downtown businesses.
“They say this will give downtown businesses a shot in the arm,” Hale said. “How can it if it only affects five percent of them?”
Willis said that the ordinance could have a negative effect on Easley in the long run.
“The city of Easley has always promoted itself as a family-oriented place where you can take your children and feel that they are safe,” Willis said. “This ordinance could change that. This will just bring more issues that will have to be dealt with. We need to head this thing off early.”
Hale said two of the people who will speak to council Monday night are former Easley High School principal Bill Houston, owner of Houston and Childress Realty on Pendleton Street, and the Rev. Dr. David Gallamore, pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church.
Hale said he honestly feels that the majority of Easley residents would oppose this measure if they were aware of what was happening.
“I wish they would bring it up for a referendum,” Hale said. “Then they would see that the majority of people are not in favor of this.