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Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Proposed Ordinance Will Allow Bars in South Irving

Photo by John Starkey

UPDATE: Since this story has gone to print, Councilman Oscar Ward has contacted Rambler Newspapers and clarified that he is for maintaining the current Restaurant Alcohol Beverage (RAB) ordinances with some modifications and increasing the current food-to-drink ratio in restaurants from 50/50 to 40/60, but he is not in favor of bars in Irving. Rambler Newspapers will continue to follow this story and will be releasing a follow-up in the days to come.

Irving—An ordinance proposed in the Irving City Council last October would allow bars to open in South Irving if passed and has been a subject of debate within the community.

The issue was originally brought to the City Council’s attention at the end of September by the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and the Irving Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB). It is making its way through the municipal system with public hearings, as well as City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission meetings as required by the state.

This ordinance if passed, would allow establishments whose gross revenue comes from at least 75 percent alcohol sales consumed on premises to open in the area.Each applicant would be dealt with on a case-by-case and site-by-site basis. If accepted, applicants would be granted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which could be revoked at any time at the Council’s discretion.

The ordinance is supported by the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, Irving CVB, the North Texas Restaurant Association, and the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association.

At the City Council Meeting on Dec. 9, the city reported on the regulations that would be in put in place should the ordinance pass.

Existing and accepted future restaurants, hotels, service industries, and entertainment establishments whose gross income consists of less than 75 percent alcohol sales must continue to comply with distance rules set by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. These businesses cannot be within 300 feet of a church, school, or hospital. This distance requirement will also apply to any business that is granted license under the proposed ordinance.

There are a few established businesses that are exempt from the distance requirement, mainly because they have already been approved for on-premises consumption of alcohol.Examples of these exempt establishments are located in the Lake Carolyn area, the Heritage Crossing Zoning District, in Transit Oriented Districts, Planned Unit Development 6, where the former Texas Stadium was located, as well as any property owned by the city that has been previously approved for on‐premises consumption.

Proposed amendments will allow most restaurants to expand outdoor patio areas up to 25 percent and to utilize the new or existing patio areas for food and beverage service, as long as noise rules are followed. It would also require businesses to provide additional parking spots for patrons who use the patio area.

The amendments also define, or re-define, several categories of businesses that sell or manufacture alcoholic beverages, such as bars,brewpubs, manufacturers for wholesale and/or distribution, breweries, wineries,distilleries, wine boutiques,microbreweries, event centers and rental halls, restaurants, and private clubs.

Lastly, the amendments would allow the Council to change the Irving Land Use Chart, as well as individual sections, to make districts appropriately zoned for current and future business uses.

There are restrictions for businesses granted a CUP under this proposed ordinance. Applicants must supply a site plan and are subject to the revocation of the permit due to unacceptable or sub-par behavior and/or operation, discontinuance of use (abandonment), or not moving forward in the process after application. These restrictions will be in place indefinitely unless Council determines otherwise.

At the Dec. 9 meeting of the City Council, two members expressed their individual support of the ordinance, though Council as a whole is ready to move forward.

“I think it’s the right direction for the city to go based on some conversations I had with folks in South Irving yesterday,” councilman and mayor pro-tem Kyle Taylor said. “They were extremely excited about what the potential is, allowing what can happen down in that area of town. I’m all for it.”

“To piggyback on what Mr. Taylor said, this is long overdue,” Councilman Oscar Ward said.“Let’s move forward with it now.”

While the ordinance does carry much support from area citizens, not all residents in South Irving are excited about these proposed changes.

“Why not [do this]?”resident Leslie Gafford said. “We have a liquor store at every corner. I hate what Irving, or better yet,what South Irving has become. It’s sad that we have so many liquor stores. It’s bad enough we have people who drink and drive and kill people, and now we have to see a bar on every corner.”

“My concerns are threefold,” resident Mary Hennigan said. “First of all, this whole process seemed secretive to me.

“Secondly, I have attended all of the pertinent meetings, and it feels like the city is fast-tracking this ordinance. How much movement do you see in any local government during the holidays? Not much. But this issue is moving through the process very quickly.

“Thirdly, the city can barely keep up with code enforcement as it is. How are they going to be any better about bars? We don’t need more drunk drivers or illicit activities associated with bars in Irving.”

The next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting will be on Jan. 18. The ordinance will be discussed further, and the public is welcome. The final decision to pass or not pass the ordinance will rest with the City Council.