You will soon be able to buy beer, wine and mixed drinks in Midlothian, but the Midlothian city council will tell you how and where you buy it.
The Midlothian city council approved changes to the city's zoning ordinance and language explaining how and where alcohol can be sold inside the city limits.
Midlothian residents approved two alcohol sales referendums Nov. 6 that will allow the sale of mixed drinks in restaurants for on premises consumption and the sale of beer and wine for off premises consumption.
"We're just trying to clean up language for drive-up type businesses," said Midlothian City Planner John Garfield, in presenting changes to the council. "And while it is not likely we will have (package stores), we could have package stores in the future and this helps us define zoning for those establishments, too."
Garfield said the ordinance has been tailored after other city ordinances around the Metroplex. He said the changes had met with the approval of the Midlothian Planning and Zoning Board and Frank Viso of the Corporation for Economic Development in Midlothian.
The city also got its first look at the new ordinance as it relates to sexually oriented businesses.
"The only place anybody will be able to put a sexually oriented business around here will be the middle of a cement quarry," said Midlothian Mayor Boyce Whatley. "While you can't deny any business, you can tell them where they will do business and how."
The sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption passed by a slim margin with 977 casting a ballot in favor of the referendum and 933 voting against.
The sale of mixed drinks, beer and wine in restaurants and by food and beverage certificate holders was met with a wider margin of approval. The city saw 1,218 votes cast for this referendum and 687 votes cast against.
Under the city's current zoning, it looks like beer barns could open in selected spots on U.S. Highway 287 Business and along FM 663. Convenience stores around town will be able to sell beer or wine as long as they don't infringe on a school or church.
Don Stout, attorney for the Midlothian City Council, said state law prohibits the sale of alcohol with 300 feet of a school or church. He pointed out the law defines the 300-foot perimeter from property line to property line for a school and from front door to front door for a church.
"There is a 1,000-foot provision, but in researching the law, that distance is reserved for cities with a population in excess of 900,000," said Stout.
Stout said he was not clear on the exact process of obtaining a license to serve alcohol or how long it might be before Midlothian residents could buy beer from local convenience stores. He referred questions to the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC).
Bob Wallace, TABC Regional Supervisor for Compliance in Dallas, said it takes from six to eight weeks for paperwork to wind it way through TABC.
"People can already buy alcohol at private clubs in Midlothian," said Wallace. "But the timeline starts with the day the city canvasses the election. At that point a business can apply for a license, we check them out and make sure everything is in order and then we issue a dated permit."
That permit must be renewed annually with TABC.
"Any law enforcement officer can enter an establishment at any time to observe and make sure they are following the law for the sale of alcohol," said Wallace. "We also gladly offer our expertise if there are problems or a local department requests our assistance."
Wallace said the public is also welcome to call TABC at 214-678-4000 with questions or visit their website at www.tabc.state.tx.us to learn more about the law regulating the sale of alcohol.
The law as it applies to Midlothian will allow the sale of beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages under 18 percent alcohol in local grocery stores, convenience stores and beer barns.
The sale of alcohol in local restaurants has been going on for some time under the state's convoluted "club card" system, where patrons become members of a private club, the club buys alcohol to store on the premises and then sells to club members.
The November vote will do away with that process. Restaurants, bars and clubs will now be allowed to simply sell alcohol to anyone older than the age of 21.