Fort Worth proposes eliminating school buffer zone rule for alcohol sales in mixed-use zoning

Posted Monday, May. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: Fort Worth

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The city is proposing to eliminate its 300-foot buffer zone between schools and businesses that sell alcohol in areas that have mixed-use zoning, which would affect a dozen public, charter and private schools around downtown, on the near south side and along Camp Bowie Boulevard.

The City Council, which has typically granted variances in recent cases where establishments have sought to sell alcohol within the minimum distance, requested the change.

The council, on a case-by-case basis, would still be able to require a minimum distance of 1,000 feet to private schools, if requested, under the current ordinance. The council will hold a public hearing at its meeting at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.

Clint Bond, spokesman for Fort Worth schools, said Monday the district has “no problem” with the change regarding schools in the central business district. But for cases outside the CBD, the district wants to be able to request case-by-case review, he said.

The city staff has been discussing the ordinance change with the schools and development groups such as Fort Worth South that are interested in the city’s mixed-use areas, and plans to put off a scheduled council vote on the ordinance change to June 4 from May 21, Dana Burghdoff, the city’s deputy planning and development director, said Monday.

“We want to make sure we get everybody comfortable before we ask the council to vote,” Burghdoff said.

Carlos Flores, president of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhood Associations, said the league hasn’t taken a position on the issue and hasn’t heard feedback from neighborhoods yet.

The council asked for the ordinance change because of its recent history of granting variances in mixed-use areas and because of the impending move of Fort Worth’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy from one mixed-use area on West Magnolia Avenue on the Near South Side to another downtown, Burghdoff said.

“We don’t want to do anything to curtail business in the Central Business District,” Bond said.

The ordinance change would remove the 300-foot distance requirement between businesses that serve alcohol and public and private schools and public hospitals. A public school is defined as one going up through college, and a private school — according to the Texas alcoholic beverage code — is defined as kindergarten through 12th grade.

John Peter Smith on the near south side is the only public hospital in Fort Worth, and its satellite clinics aren’t considered “hospitals” under the ordinance, Burghdoff said.

Mixed-use zoned areas in Fort Worth include the CBD, Trinity Uptown, near south side, Camp Bowie, Trinity Lakes in northeast Fort Worth, and the city’s various urban villages. Trinity Lakes is in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district. No HEB schools are affected, Burghdoff said.

Fort Worth’s 12 schools that are affected include the Eagle Project Premier Middle School and High School, charter, 6411 Camp Bowie Blvd.; Richard Milburn Academy, charter, 6777 Camp Bowie; Theresa B. Lee Academy, charter, 4327 E. Lancaster Ave.; Applied Learning Academy, Fort Worth school district, 7060 Camp Bowie; International Newcomer Academy, Fort Worth, 7060 Camp Bowie, and Trimble Technical High School, Fort Worth, 1003 W. Cannon Ave.

Also included are the Van Zandt Guinn Elementary School, Fort Worth, 501 Missouri Ave.; Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Fort Worth, 401 E. Eighth St., new location; Cassata Learning Center, private, 1400 Hemphill St.; Lady Margaret Roper Prep School, private, 3020 Lubbock St.; Montessori at Sundance Square, private, 201 Jones St., and Our Lady of Victory, private, 3320 Hemphill.

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808 Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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