Prep for beer, wine sales continues
Tyler is buzzing with talk about beer and wine.
Daniel Hall, of Tyler, sat eating pizza at a local eatery Wednesday, and in-between bites the conversation among friends was beer and where and when they would be able to buy in Tyler.
"Everyone's talking about it," he said. "I've lived here most of my life and have been driving out of town to get (alcohol) for years. It's going to be a big change that everyone I know is looking forward to."
Hall said the ability to walk into Tyler convenience or grocery stores to buy beer or wine is a long overdue choice. Friends are following rumors and chatter regarding where and when the first historic beverages will be sold, he said.
"It's weird to think of it like that, but I'd like to be the first to buy a beer in Tyler," he said.
Brookshire's spokeswoman Rebecca Sanders said company officials have been questioned by news media regarding rumors beer and wine would be on shelves this week.
There were also rumors stores had received shipments of beer and wine. Ms. Sanders said stores cannot receive any shipments of those products until a permit is approved by the state.
On Tuesday, Loretta Green, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's regional licensing supervisor, said officials had not received any permits from the city or county and that it would be at least a "week or two" to complete the process once permits are received.
She estimated the process would take between 45 and 60 days after the Nov. 6 election. It's day 37.
"We can't give a definite date because we're waiting to hear from the city and county, and then there are a few more steps, but it will be sooner than you think," she said.
There were also questions regarding how proximity ordinances will affect businesses seeking permits. State law requires businesses selling alcohol to be 300 feet (property line to property line) from schools and 300 feet (entrance to entrance) from churches.
Tyler City Planner Heather Nick said state law directs the measurement to follow sidewalks and to cross intersections as part of the measuring process for all businesses and that the location was well within the law.
Ms. Sanders said all Tyler stores meet the minimum distance ordinance requirement for schools.
Ms. Nick said two businesses that filed for permits did not meet distance requirements have filed for variances that will be discussed in future Planning and Zoning meetings. One permit applicant was refused because it was not located within the "wet" area of the city.
Stores around the city are making room for beer and wine.
Ms. Sanders said local Brookshire's stores are undergoing merchandising and space allocation changes to make room for beer and wine.
Pete Doherty, manager at KE Cellars on Broadway Avenue, said the local option gave the opportunity for the beverage retailer to expand its variety from Texas wines to imports as of Nov. 28.
Doherty said KE Cellars already was permitted to sell wine bottled in Texas, and that the election allowed the business to expedite expansion of its inventory to include wines bottled around the country and world.
Buy Local First member Bob Westbrook, who sought legalization of beer and wine sales, said he has heard very little talk about alcohol other than an occasional "thank you" for being part of the campaign.
Westbrook said he believes the city and county are moving cautiously but purposefully, "crossing their T's and dotting their I's" on the permitting phase. He said he doesn't expect stores to be ready to sell before New Year's.
Ms. Sanders said Brookshire's, one of the first local retailers to file paperwork with both the county and city, does not have an expected timeline to have shelves and coolers stocked.
A lawsuit challenging the results of the November local option elections in Tyler and Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 is still pending in the 7th District Court, but no hearing date has been set.
Pastor Mike Daniels, a member of Stand Strong for Tyler, a group opposed to alcohol sales, said the fight is not over in a newsletter circulated to solicit $15,000 to pay for legal services.
Daniels could not be reached for comment by press time.