Planning and Zoning commissioners approved a modification Tuesday to the current city alcohol ordinance to allow some exceptions if the retail establishment is within 300 feet of a public or private school, a day care center or a child care facility.
"We (the Alcohol Beverage Committee) have decided the current ordinance governing the required 300-foot distance between the alcohol retailer and a church or hospital is adequate," City Planner Heather Nick said during the meeting.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code allows the governing board of a city or town to allow variances to the alcohol distance regulations upon a determination by the governing board that the variance is in the best interest of the public, to address hardships or to protect the public welfare, according to city information.
State law requires the distance between a retail establishment that sells alcohol and a public or private school generally be measured in a direct line from the property line of the retailer to the property line of the school and in a direct line across an intersection. The law governing measurement of the distance from an alcohol-selling retailer is measured from the front door of a retailer to the front door of a church or school.
The city's alcohol review committee recommended two exceptions to the 300-foot distance rule between alcohol-selling retailers and public or private schools and child care facilities: The building where the alcohol is sold must be a minimum of 20,000 square feet and a natural or manmade buffer, such as a 6-foot fence, must exist and continue to exist between the retailer and the school or child care facility.
The city council voted Feb. 27 to table some retailer's requests until the city's alcohol review committee could look more closely at the ordinance and make some changes so retailers would not continue to seek exceptions to the variances.
In early February, there were requests to the commission from the Supermercado Monterrey, 510 Southwest Loop; Cefco Convenience Stores at South Broadway Avenue and Barbee Street; and Sam's Club, 2025 SSW Loop, for an exception to the city's alcohol variance to allow them to sell within 300 feet of both a public school, a private school, and a church. Commissioners denied the requests from Supermercado Monterrey because of its proximity to Jones-Boshears Elementary School and from Cefco because it was too close to the First United Pentecostal Church of Tyler.
The commission approved the request from Sam's Club because the store requires a membership to shop there.
Despite protests from nearby neighbors, commissioners approved a zoning change from "general commercial" to "residential multi-family" to allow a 92-unit apartment complex to be built on the north side of Tyler, just south of Interstate 20 and close to U.S. Highway 69 north.
Neighbors voiced concerns over increased traffic and other issues at the meeting, saying they had moved the location to get away from traffic and apartment complexes.
The complex, to be called Saige Meadows, is being developed by Pinnacle Housing Group, which builds affordable housing in the Southeast United States' urban centers and rural communities.
Commissioners also voted to approve a zoning change and site plan change for a development over the protests of another group of neighbors from the Idlewilde neighborhood, which is at the intersection of Old Bullard Road and Timberwilde Drive.
Developers want to convert an existing building that houses a financial services business at 4803 Old Bullard Road to one for general retail use, which could include restaurants. Neighbors spoke, some passionately, against any changes to zoning.
Mark Lankford, president of the Idlewilde neighborhood's civic organization, spoke against the plans to commissioners, citing problems with drainage, traffic and noise with proposed changes. The city council voted in 2010 to build a wall to buffer noise, but it was never installed, Lankford said.
Ms. Nick said council members had approved an 8-foot wall, but it was never installed because there has been no permitting process yet with the city from developers. The wall was not required to be built until development was ready to be started, Ms. Nick said.