Sunday, May 10, 2009

No More Trips to the Strip?

Lubbock County Voters Approve Alcohol Sales
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Story last updated at 5/10/2009 - 2:06 am

Lubbock County voters overwhelmingly approved two ballot propositions expanding alcohol sales in the county during a countywide election that ended Saturday.

Proposition 1, which expands packaged alcohol sales in the county, passed by a nearly 2-1 margin with 64.5 percent in favor.

Proposition 2 to allow mixed-drink sales in restaurants passed with about 69.5 percent in favor.

About 41,000 ballots were cast early. When polls closed at 7 p.m. Saturday, 9,552 votes were cast on Election Day - substantially fewer than County Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy had expected - according to the Lubbock County Office of Elections.

The tally does not include provisional or mail-in ballots, which are expected to take about five days to count. The county sent out about 1,000 mail-in ballots, Kennedy said.

The early voting numbers sparked excitement at pro-alcohol expansion Political Action Committee Lubbock County Wins' watch party at the Hawthorn Inn and Suites.

"There were lots of cheers in the room and relief that the results were in our favor," the PAC's chairwoman, Melissa Pierce, said when early voting results came up on the television screen in the hotel's conference room.

"I expected it to be very, very close" she said, but explained she would have preferred to see a larger voter turnout.

Only 35 percent of the county's 144,910 registered voters cast ballots.

But Pierce said she wasn't surprised by what looks like Lubbock County voters' approval of the propositions.

"I think Lubbock is a progressive city and we're ready for this," the stay-at-home mom said.

At anti-alcohol-expansion PAC Truth About Alcohol Sales's backyard voting watch party, spokeswoman Connie Curry said low-key anticipation of the results turned to disappointment.

"We certainly were expecting a higher percentage in the early voting," she said.

Though Pierce said turnout was lower than she would have liked, she believes the will of the voters was expressed by the results.

"The hard work has paid off and now we can sit back and be happy that we had the opportunity to vote on this," she said.

Pierce praised the actions of the Let Lubbock Vote PAC, which was formed, in part, by the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce in September as part of its efforts in leading a petition drive to put the propositions on the ballot.

"They put in a lot of work and we put in a lot of work," she said.

Truth About Alcohol Sales formed as a political action committee of residents concerned that alcohol sales would be a detriment to the county shortly after Let Lubbock Vote organized.

Despite the results of Saturday's election, the future of alcohol sales in Lubbock County remains in flux.

Owners of the liquor stores at The Strip, Pinkie's and Majestic Liquor, filed a lawsuit against the city of Lubbock and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission claiming city zoning ordinances violate state law. The Lubbock City Council approved alcohol zoning ordinances in December 2008 in anticipation of Saturday's vote.

The liquor stores asked 237th District Judge Sam Medina to bar the city from issuing the necessary paperwork to obtain alcoholic beverage permits until an agreement can be reached on the wording of the ordinance.

In 1960, Lubbock County voters legalized the sale of beer and wine in the southeast part of the county - then justice of the peace Precinct 6 - creating what today is referred to as "The Strip," a row of liquor stores south of town on U.S. 87.

The Precinct 6 boundaries have changed over the years, but liquor sales are still limited to those original locations.

In 1972, voters allowed restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages inside the city. Liquor-by-the-drink sales are limited to the 1972 city boundaries, when the city limits stopped at 82nd Street. Restaurants outside the 1972 city limits have been unable to sell alcohol unless they operated as a private club and offered memberships to diners.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to you?