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City council sets guidelines for alcohol sales

by Dolores Hamilton
Monday night the Iowa Park City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance setting a minimum 300-foot setback, with variances, application fees and operation hours for businesses selling an alcoholic beverage.

Before the public hearing began, City Attorney Jay Cantrell spoke to the council on actions they could take to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol in the city limits. He said most regulations are set by state law. “Basically the areas that the Alcoholic Beverage Code allows cities to act in is the area dealing with distance regulations,” he said. “There can also be a variance within the ordinance.”

The city can adopt a local fee that is equal to half of what the state application fee is. Hours of operation are set by the state. Cities are permitted to extend the hours but can’t limit the hours more than exist under state law. In addition, Cantrell said the 1,000 foot setback regulation from schools only applies to municipalities with a population of over 900,000.

Four people signed up to speak during the public hearing concerning the issue of regulating the sale and consumption of alcohol in the city.

The first speaker was Patti Marshall, manager of the local Pizza Hut. She said she didn’t want to do anything until everything is put into place. “How long are we looking at before everything’s enacted and all of these rules and regulations are set up?” she asked. “It could be tonight,” replied City Manager Mike Price. Marshall said she wasn’t in a rush, just wanted to know what the rules are.

Kendall Graves, pastor of Grace Tabernacle Church, spoke next, reading a letter requesting that the city council adopt the minimum guidelines as stated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC) prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of the church.

Glenn Pearce, pastor of First Baptist Church, read a letter requesting the city council to enact regulations to prohibit sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of all churches in Iowa Park as provided by TABC regulations. He told of the various ministries and activities for individuals of all ages, and asked for a buffer zone around the churches to provide a safe and secure environment. He also asked for buffers around the schools and day care businesses.

The last speaker was Randy Scobee, owner of Scobee’s Mini Mart. Scobee said he had spoken with hundreds of people and 99 percent of them said, “I sure hope you can sell us beer.” “Not that I particularly wanted it,” Scobee said. “I didn’t push it, but it’s here and if I don’t have it I’ll be put at a business disadvantage.”

After the public hearing, the council began a discussion to consider an ordinance providing for the adoption of application fees, license fees, setback distances and operation hours for alcohol sales for on-premise and off-premise consumption.

The meeting did not go without heated discussion between Mayor Dan Fears and Mayor Pro Tem Sherrie Williams.

Earlier, Williams said she had been the subject of a smear campaign with it being preached that she was one of the group behind the drive to legalize alcohol sales.

During the discussion, Williams said, “The citizens have spoken, it doesn’t matter how the six of us (members of the council) feel, the citizens have spoken.”

Mayor Fears asked, “What was the vote, eight-something to seven-something? It was really kind of close and was county-wide not city-wide. That doesn’t carry much water with me.”

At that point, Williams told Fears, “You are one of the ones who smeared me.” “Am I?” he asked. “Yes sir you are!” Williams replied. “I have the e-mail you sent me saying if you want to clear yourself, you need to speak publicly, after we’d been advised by legal council not to speak publicly.” Fears told her to produce the e-mail, that he didn’t recall sending any e-mail to her on that subject.

Williams left the council chambers to retrieve the e-mail and brought it back. She gave it to Fears after the meeting was adjourned.

Meanwhile, the council voted unanimously to adopt Ordinance No. 1157, as written. The full wording of Ordinance 1157 can be found on page 9 of this issue.

In other business the council agreed to participate in a joint advertising project with the Iowa Park CISD and Iowa Park Community Development Corporation (4B). The advertising campaign is carried out during the summer months to attract new students and their families to move to Iowa Park.

S-5! Manufacturing was given an extension to the real estate sales contract with the city to allow S-5! additional time to address environmental and title objections. Price said they should still close on the sale by the end of August.