ARLINGTON — The Arlington City Council took the first step toward tripling the distance separating schools, churches and hospitals from any future package liquor stores.Mayor Robert Cluck and the entire council directed city officials to develop ordinances that would prevent liquor from being sold within 300 feet of public and private schools and day-care centers. State law requires only a 100-foot setback.The council also wants to extend the maximum distance allowed for open containers to 1,000 feet from homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment centers. On Nov. 5, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure allowing package stores.“It just doesn’t feel right to have liquor next to a hospital, school or church,” Cluck said. “If we could push it back 500 feet, we probably would.”The city will conduct a public hearing before the council takes its final vote. Currently, package stores can be in areas zoned for business, light industrial and industrial manufacturing, such as along Division Street and near main highways, including east of Texas 360 and along parts of Interstate 20.Arlington school district officials sent a letter asking the council to consider using the maximum distance allowed by the state. The state mandates that package liquor sales be at least 100 feet from schools, day-care centers, churches and hospitals.Jim Parajon, director of community development and planning, explained to council members what the law allows and what exceptions they can make.Owners of establishments that want to sell liquor outside the allowable areas could ask the Planning and Zoning Commission and the council for an amendment to the zoning ordinance.Parajon said an example would be the Arlington Highlands, which includes restaurants that already sell liquor by the drink.“The council could certainly entertain approval on a case-by-case basis,” Parajon said.Restaurants within 1,000 feet of homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment centers can sell liquor on their property, and the open-container rule doesn’t apply to downtown Arlington.Councilman Michael Glaspie was less than thrilled about the latter.“So someone inside the Central District could walk down the street drinking?” he asked.His question was answered with a simple “yes.”Parajon couldn’t give a date on when that will be ready for a council vote. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter: @MonicaNagyFWST