Mansfield News

Council denies alcohol variance

Carniceria Carmelita will not able to sell beer after all because of its proximity to Legacy High School.

The City Council voted 5-2 Monday to deny the Mexican meat market’s request to sell alcohol within 300 feet of the high school. Mayor David Cook and Councilman Cory Hoffman said these proximity laws are out of date. They voted against denying the request.

“Parents need to parent their children,” Cook said. “You probably weren’t even allowed to dance when this law was passed.”

The majority of the council reversed its decision from the Feb. 27 meeting when it voted 4-3 in favor of Carmelita’s request. Several Mansfield school leaders opposed the sale of alcohol so close to Legacy High, but didn’t have a chance to speak out against it. The school district rallied the community against the request with a strong show of force at Monday’s meeting.

Michelle Hurst, a teacher at Legacy, said students never take the crosswalk anyway and this only encourages them to dash across Main Street to reach the grocery store.

“We are bringing the alcohol closer. The kids always take the fastest route, in most cases the most dangerous route,” Hurst said.

But Carmelita has its share of supporters, too.

The grocery store was a $1.4 million investment when it opened in 2004 on Main Street, years before Legacy High School opened. Another Mexican meat market could be coming to town so Carmelita will face increased competition.

“We want to be able to compete with the new stores coming into Mansfield because they offer a one-stop shop,” Anna Shaffer, Carmelita’s owner, told the council. “We hope you will give us a chance to serve not only the Hispanic community but everyone who comes out.”

She said they had no intention of selling alcohol to teenagers and wouldn’t be selling single-serve cans of beer.

Councilman Stephen Lindsey said he shops at this store frequently and their lack of beer never dissuades him from shopping there.

“I sincerely think that given what they have in store and everything else, this should not be too big of an impact,” Lindsey said.

The council faced a similar thorny issue earlier this month when a shopping center requested a variance to sell beer and wine at restaurants just east of Mansfield High School.

The request near Mansfield High was for restaurants to serve alcohol for on-premise consumption, not off-premise consumption like Carmelita sought.

The restaurants were part of a larger zoning request that included a Market Street grocery, though that store was platted separately so it didn’t require a variance.

After three separate votes at three meetings, the council ultimately approved the zoning request, including the alcohol sales, March 6.

Carmelita is an existing business so the zoning request only required one vote.

The council will consider changing the approval process so the community can give more input on future requests to sell alcohol in close proximity to schools, churches and hospitals.

Councilman Brent Newsom initiated the discussion and it will appear on a future agenda.

City attorney Allen Taylor addressed concerns about setting a precedent if the Carmelita request had been approved.

“If the council grants a variance in this case, if another variance request is received, the city must be able to articulate why one was approved and another wasn’t,” Taylor said.

New storage center proposed

The council got its first look at a three-story All Storage facility proposed at U.S. 287 at Heritage Parkway. The council approved it unanimously on first reading. It will return for second reading April 10.

The facility consists of all indoor storage units in two buildings, one 74,346 square feet and another 140,700 square feet.