Group files petition for alcohol sales in Precinct 5

Published on Friday, 11 July 2014 19:10 - Written by Calvin Maynard

The Committee for Economic Growth has turned in its petition requesting a local-option election in November to allow limited sale of alcoholic beverages in the Lindale area, and organizers say they’re confident the signatures will be validated and the election called.

In addition to economic benefits, members of the group said they feel legalization will have little to no effect on crime and drunken driving rates.

“I believe there are no facts to support” the claim that it will cause more crime and drunkenness, said former Lindale mayor Jim Mallory, the group’s treasurer. “Tyler’s rates have actually gone down since they did this, and we see across the state, these elections have no negative effect.”

The petition for Smith County’s Precinct 5 also has the support of members of the business community.

“I own a catering business,” committee member Darla Sanders said on Friday. “This won’t directly affect my business, but it will have a beneficial effect on the town. My business is downtown, and the sales tax revenue can go to help fix sidewalks, the road, and the infrastructure.”

State law requires 2,574 signatures from registered voters in the precinct to call the election, which will impact northwestern Smith County, including the cities of Lindale and Hideaway Lake. Circulation of the petition began June 12. The Smith County Elections Office now has 30 days to verify the signatures by random spot checks. Should the count prove sufficient, officials will call for the election this November.

The ballot will call for “the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only.” Under state law, this will allow beer and wine sales only in places such as grocery and convenience stores but will still forbid packaged liquor sales. In addition, the petition requests “the legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders only” but will still forbid the operation of standalone bars, nightclubs and adult clubs.

“Studies show the potential economic impact on Smith County JP 5 could be approximately $13.2 million in annual sales, nearly 130 new jobs, and over $300,000 in new sales tax revenues,” said Laura Krantz, the committee’s media contact. “This would represent a 14.2 percent increase from 2013 sales tax revenues for the city of Lindale.”

If the petition is verified, Precinct 5 would be the fourth Smith County precinct to call for such an election, after precincts 1, 2 and 4.