Members of the community filled the forum of City Hall Monday to express their beliefs and concerns to the council about alcohol being sold in Waxahachie.

The issue placed before council members was whether or not to grant variances to businesses that would override the 300-foot rule that restricts alcohol sales near schools and churches. 

Presenting their application for a variance for a beer and wine retailer off-premise permit were Wal-Mart, H-E-B Food Store, Racetrac Beverage Company and Your Beauty Supply and More Two. Fat Daddy’s Sports and Spirits Café also presented a petition for a variance for a private club beer and wine permit.

Mayor Ron Wilkinson made a motion that opened up the floor for public comment and discussion of each applicant. The motion was seconded by Councilman Chuck Beatty and given approval unanimously.

The first applicant to be discussed by the council was Wal-Mart.

JB Hurd from Drug Prevention Resources Inc. expressed his feelings that alcohol is a temptation to the youth of Waxahachie.

“The locations of these businesses pose a very real danger to our children,” Hurd said.

“Statistics show that 70 percent of juvenile arrests are related and can be traced back to underage drinking,” he said. “They also show that youth are six times more likely to abuse alcohol that any other drug.”

Waxahachie ISD board president Joe Langley addressed council members about trustees’ concerns with retailers selling alcohol so close to several campuses.

“I know there was a vote on the sale of beer and wine in November and it passed. I know that it will be sold here and I know students will get it elsewhere,” Langley said. “What I’m concerned about is our image of selling alcohol next to our schools and how it will appear.”

Expressing her support of granting the variance for Wal-Mart was PJ Leible of Milford, who said she travels to Waxahachie on a weekly basis to buy the items she needs. She expressed her support of having everything all in one location for the sake of convenience.

Mark Singleton also stood in support of the variance and said the issue was about granting a variance for selling beer or wine. The issue was not about legislating responsibility to people, he said.

“The voters were informed in the elections on both sides of the issues. For six weeks prior to the election, Family First did a great job of filling our heads with images of babies with wine bottles,” Singleton said.

“It is up to our retailers to be responsible – they already sell things that are far more dangerous that alcohol. But they do so in a controlled and regulated manner when they sell guns, ammunition or dispense medication.

“Government did a lousy job with the regulation of the sale of no alcohol at all,” he said. “Prohibition failed miserably.”

Wilkinson said he had asked City Manager Paul Stevens to pull all of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission records for each business requesting a variance if possible. Wilkinson noted that Wal-Mart didn’t have any violations for 2008.

“Although I strongly support the 300-foot rule, I suggest that we support their application for a variance,” Wilkinson said. “It seems to me that they are a responsible organization and run a good operation.”

A motion to approve the variance was made by Councilman Joe Jenkins, seconded by Beatty and passed unanimously.

H-E-B Food Store application for a variance was up next for consideration, with Wilkinson noting the company had 25 different violations from the TABC from the past year from stores across the state. The violations included not displaying proper signage relating to the selling of alcohol to a minor.

“These facts disturb me because this store is so close to a high school,” Wilkinson said. “I would like to recommend that this request be denied.”

Councilman John Wray moved to approve the variance, Jenkins seconded, with the measure passed 4-1 with Wilkinson voting against the variance.

The next business considered for a variance was Racetrac, with Wilkinson noting the company was cited twice in 2008 for selling alcohol to a minor at two locations in Dallas.

Beatty moved to approve the item with Wray seconding. The variance was granted in a 4-1 vote with Wilkinson voting against it.

Representing Fat Daddy’s Sports and Spirits Café was Jeff Taylor, who is the vice president of operations. The café would be located at 1011 N. U.S. Highway 77, Suite 103.

“The reason why we are here tonight is because of how our property line is laid out. If we didn’t have the one driveway that leads from the building to the roadway we would be well beyond that 300-foot rule,” Taylor said.

“Our business does not fit the profile of falling under the mixed beverage or food and beverage permits. We operate both as a restaurant and live club because we feature private bands as entertainment,” he said.

Taylor said Fat Daddy’s has a zero tolerance policy concerning the sale of alcohol to minors. 

Wilkinson noted that Fat Daddy’s was cited for two different technical violations concerning proper signage in the past year. 

The motion for approval was made by Councilman Buck Jordan and seconded by Beatty, passing 4-1 with Wilkinson against it.

Variance denied

The final variance, for Your Beauty Supply and More, was opposed by members of New Mount Zion Missionary Church. Church Deacon Alfred Mims Jr. addressed the council.

“Our church has been on this corner for the past 99 years and when I found out that this was on the agenda to be considered I knew I had to say something,” Mims said.

“Some of the members of the church are here with me tonight and share my same concern,” he said. “Three hundred feet is one thing, but this business is located just 25 feet from our building. This is a completely different issue.”

Other church members expressed their concern that they are trying to rebuild their community and make it a positive place to live and be a part of. The sales of alcohol in a corner store would not help their cause but make things worse, they said.

Your Beauty Supply and More owner Latoshia Bolden also addressed the council.

“I have no intention of selling beer or wine to minors in my store. If they get a hold of alcohol it is not from me,” Bolden said. “The selling of this product will be done in a respectful way with only one or two coolers being placed in the store. I have a petition signed by a number of my customers saying that they would go elsewhere if it was not sold here.”

Beatty said he was worried with setting a precedent between big box retailers and small locally-owned “mom-and-pop” type stores. He also said he had been in the store several times and it seemed to him the owner was responsible in the way she ran her business.

Jenkins made the motion to deny and Jordan seconded it. The motion to deny passed 4-1 with Beatty voting against it.

E-mail Andrew at Andrew.branca@wninews.com