Colleyville liquor-store locations are stirring debate

COLLEYVILLE -- Potential locations of liquor stores in Colleyville have become a hot-button issue for residents.

On Monday night, Sigel's Fine Wines & Great Spirits received preliminary approval to open a store at the Village development along Colleyville Boulevard, next to First Baptist Church Colleyville.

The package liquor store received strong support from many residents and business owners, but it also had strong opposition, especially from members of the church. Sigel's would occupy the entire first floor of the Village's new three-story building at 5232 Colleyville Blvd. On a 4-3 vote, the Planning and Zoning Commission sent the request for a special-use permit to the City Council.

The city received 42 messages calling on the commission to reject the permit, and 100 people signed an opposition letter.

Forty people sent messages in support.

Last week, more than 100 people jammed council chambers to protest permit applications for three other stores seeking to sell packaged liquor.

At that meeting, the council denied an application from the owner of a Mobil service station on Colleyville Boulevard but granted permits to Hall's Grocery, 4200 Glade Road, and Tivoli Wines, 62 Main St., which is also in the Village at Colleyville.

The stores still need permits from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, city spokeswoman Mona Gandy said. Tivoli's owner, Kevin Smith, said Monday night that he expects his state permit within 10 days.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum in May to allow package liquor sales in Colleyville, which is the only Northeast Tarrant County city besides Westlake to have liquor stores.

Clash over location

At Monday's public hearing, the main issue concerned the store's possible impact on the church and the more than 300 children who attend the church's Sonshine Academy preschool and Venture private school.

Although the buildings are 80 feet apart and regulations call for a minimum distance of 300 feet between a liquor store and church, the distance is measured from door to door following the property lines.

Under that measurement, the main door of the proposed Sigel's store is 477 feet from the first door of the church building, said Ron Ruthven, the city's director of community development.

But an access driveway connects the parking lots of the two buildings, and opponents fear that liquor store traffic will interfere with church activities.

"We do festivals out in the parking lot," said Craig Etheredge, First Baptist's senior pastor. "People are in and out every day. The traffic flow could cause a hazardous condition for our kiddos."

Kathleen Hennessey, a retired teacher, said she is horrified by the store's location. It is a "recipe for serious injury," she said in urging Sigel's to look at other locations.

However, Dallas architect Michael Twichell, speaking for Sigel's, said it was "the likeliest location."

Twichell said estimated annual sales for the store could be $4 million. Sales tax revenue for the city would be about $300,000, with an additional ad valorem tax of $15,000 per year on an inventory worth about $500,000.

That prospect encouraged some residents of the Village.

"We like to entertain and enjoy life here in Colleyville," Joe Holtshouser said. "But when we do, we have to go outside Colleyville to buy [spirits]. I think it is a good idea to have a store here to generate tax dollars."

However, Smith, the Tivoli Wines owner, said that if Sigel's comes in at the front of the development, it "will have me out of business in probably three months."

The Sigel's application is scheduled for a first hearing before the council Oct. 5 and a final vote Oct. 19.

Store votes

At last week's meeting, Charlie Hall, who initiated the petition to allow a liquor sales election, received the first permit.

The permit was granted to Hall's Grocery, with the stipulation that Hall make some improvements, including a wrought-iron fence around the propane sales area and the location of stacked firewood.

The council vote was 5-2 with members Stan Hall and Michael Muhm objecting.

Tivoli Wines' application was approved 6-1, with Hall objecting.

But Atef Henary was denied a permit for a package liquor store at a Mobil station at 4405 Colleyville Blvd.

Henary had planned to convert a carwash tunnel into a store, which he proposed to name "Liquorville" but then changed to "Mirage Fine Spirits."

Approval required a supermajority of six council votes because of opposition by more than 20 percent of neighbors within 200 feet of the proposed store.

The application was denied 5-2, with Mayor David Kelly and council member Tom Hart dissenting.

Kelly said he wanted to table the application to conduct a traffic study.

Council members expressed concerns about the location because of potential traffic problems as well as the suitability to the surrounding area and possible public safety problems.

"They needed to deny something," Henary said. "I don't know what I will do next."

Correspondent Marice Richter contributed to this report.