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Rowlett City Council adds to ordinance regulating restaurant alcohol sales
The Rowlett City Council voted to make changes to its code of ordinances pertaining to alcoholic beverage sales at businesses during its regular session on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The item was pulled off the consent agenda at the request of Councilman Carl Pankratz.
Pankratz pulled the item to address concerns he had about the possibility of the variance requirements having a negative impact on development in areas the city has already determined to be urban development districts.
"A lot of things downtown are going to need a variance due to the proximity of the churches," Pankratz said. "In an already dense area, are we stifling economic development and the possibility of maybe enticing one of those vendors to come to Rowlett."
The ordinance was originally adopted by the council in 2004. The changes to the ordinance were brought before the council as a result of the adoption of the Realize Rowlett 2020 Vision Plan that established two new zone classifications known as New Neighborhood District and Urban Village District and the need for a defined procedure to approve alcohol sales in areas that require city approval.
The provisions are allowed by the state of Texas Alcohol Beverage Code, which permits the governing board at the local level the authority to enact regulations specific to prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages and may allow variances to said regulations.
The Rowlett ordinance prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a church, public or private school or public hospital unless a variance is granted by the city council. Before the changes were made, there was no variance process in place.
"If they meet the intent of the TABC code, they don't need your permission," said Lynda Humble, city manager. "If they are within the 300 feet and they require a variance, you then get to make the decision whether or not this is a restaurant that's ideal or not."
"It is a way to allow the city to have that second level of oversight before approving a variance," said Erin Jones, planning director.
Humble added that the city staff would work with any restaurant that wants to sell alcohol in one of the areas to ensure the process can be completed in a timely manner.
"If you have got a good restaurant, we will build the system and the timeframe so that we are managing the expectations up front, and staff can do that the minute they walk through the door," Humble said.