The City Council said Tuesday night that the city needs to put a halt to new liquor stores while officials patch a weakness in the current zoning.
The council’s concern stems from the recent opening of a package liquor store in a shopping center across the street from the new upscale Arlington Commons apartment complex, now under construction at 425 E. Lamar Blvd.
City Attorney Teris Solis said the council may also consider imposing a moratorium to allow time for creating a specific-use permit, which would give the council final say in where liquor stores may open.
Councilman Jimmy Bennett said the city could consider requiring prospective liquor stores to apply for a certificate of occupancy from the city before selling liquor.
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“We have to rectify the situation,” Bennett said, adding that he wants applicants to go through formal city channels “to present their product [to the public] in a respectful manner.”
Currently, package liquor stores are allowed “by right” in the general commercial zoning district and the more restrictive industrial and manufacturing zoning districts, except in the Interstate 20 corridor between Cooper Street and Texas 360.
Liquor stores that receive their licenses from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission — and stay away from the I-20 corridor overlay zoning — don’t have to check in with City Hall.
Deputy City Manager Jim Parajon said a permit would be appropriate “given the nature of package liquor stores in some of the commercial districts in proximity to neighborhoods and schools.”
The general commercial zoning was created after the city eliminated a business zoning district in 2014. Councilwoman Sheri Capehart said she wasn’t aware that the leniency had remained.
“I don’t think that was ever the intent,” Capehart said at the meeting. “Is there a way we can go back and un-ring the bell?”
Parajon said that although existing stores that sell liquor would be grandfathered, a new certificate of occupancy — which new businesses need to open their doors — could be required for existing businesses that don’t presently sell liquor but are seeking to add it to their shelves.
He said the council could call a “temporary halt” to new liquor stores instead of dealing with requirements of imposing a moratorium.