Three propositions to allow packaged liquor stores and other liquor sales in parts of Tarrant County where they are not allowed today demand attention from voters in the Nov. 8 elections.
Early voting started Monday and runs for the next two weeks, through Friday Nov. 4.
Liquor propositions are drawing considerable concern in Grapevine, but the elections also affect Roanoke, far north Fort Worth, Haltom City, Hurst and Watauga.
Alcoholic beverage elections typically are hyper-local affairs. In the case of beer and wine sales in grocery and specialty stores and liquor by the drink in restaurants, local governments still maintain some control over the locations where these sales can take place.
Not so in the case of packaged liquor stores, and that’s what has some Grapevine officials steamed.
Total Wine & More is one of the largest liquor store chains in the United States. Its supporters backed the petition drives that got the package store propositions on the ballots in Grapevine and a large swath of north and northeast Tarrant County included in Justice of the Peace Precinct 1.
Under state law, once a packaged liquor store proposition is approved by voters in a city or Justice of the Peace precinct, the stores can locate in any area zoned for commercial use.
Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate has good reason to be mad about that.
Under Tate’s leadership for many years, Grapevine has carefully cultivated the image of its historic downtown area with quaint retail shops, restaurants and wine-tasting rooms.
“I believe that it would hurt our historic downtown to lose more retail to liquor stores,” Tate wrote in an email. “We have fought hard to keep a balance between restaurants and retail and cannot afford to lose that balance.”
Through annual festivals and other efforts, Grapevine has tied its image to independent Texas winemakers.
“We have established our brand around our name and the Texas wine industry,” Tate wrote. “A large Walmart-type wine store will hurt our tasting rooms and our wine venues.”
Northeast Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes has joined Tate in opposing the Grapevine proposition.
In Roanoke, City Manager Scott Campbell says passage of a ballot proposition to legalize the sale of all alcoholic drinks will nullify a current restriction that a restaurant selling mixed drinks must make at least 51 percent of its revenue from food sales.
That means if the proposition passes, bars not tied to restaurants could open in Roanoke.
In the Precinct 1 election, parts of some cities, such as Hurst and North Richland Hills, are not included in that precinct and will not see the packaged liquor store proposition on their ballots.
What all of this points to is that voters should inform themselves about these ballot issues, which are overshadowed by the presidential election.
“If it passes it will change Grapevine forever,” Tate wrote. “I don’t want to see that happen.”
Grapevine residents should listen to their mayor.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends a vote against Proposition 1 in Grapevine and careful consideration of liquor propositions in Roanoke and Justice of the Peace Precinct 1.