City leaders to canvas election results
By JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONS AND ADAM RUSSELL
Tyler city leaders plan to canvass the results of Tuesday's alcohol election on Nov. 19, but it could be another 45-60 days before local retailers can offer a first six-pack or bottle of wine for sale.
Businesses that intend to sell alcohol must first complete a somewhat complicated and deliberate permitting process that's required by the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, officials said Wednesday.
"The process is basically dictated through the state," City Planner Heather Nick said. "It is TABC's process; we have no control."
The first step to obtaining a sales permit can start only after elected leaders canvass the votes, an approval process that must happen between Nov. 14 and Nov. 19 to make the results official.
Voters approved two provisions during Tuesday's elections, one being the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption in places such as grocery and convenience stores; the second option permits the legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders only.
Complete but unofficial voting totals show supporters of those measures outnumber the opposition by almost a two to one margin.
Affected areas include the city limits of Tyler and Smith County Justice Precinct 2, which includes southwest Tyler, Flint and Bullard.
Businesses in those areas that are interested in selling alcohol can obtain an application through the TABC website and submit it to the city's planning department after Nov. 19.
"We have to review the application to ensure compliance" with applicable codes and ordinances, Ms. Nick said. "After planning, it goes to the Police Department ... then it goes to the City Clerk."
In the next phase, Smith County officials must conduct a similar review of the permit application to gauge compliance.
From there, the application goes to the State Comptroller's Office and then to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission for review and consideration.
Loretta Green, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's regional licensing supervisor, said Monday the commission already is walking the affected entities through the process.
"After the applications are signed off on they come to us," Ms. Green said. "Our average time of issuance is 42 days from the time we get that application."
The city of Tyler plans next week to finalize ordinances regarding beer and wine retail activity within the city limits, providing guidelines on distance, location, signage and open container rules.
The Tyler City Council is expected to sign off on the changes during its next meeting, set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.
City spokeswoman Susan Guthrie said earlier at least 100 businesses are expected to apply for permits.
Inquiries on getting started began trickling in early Wednesday, Ms. Nick said.
Ms. Green said businesses that hold permits in surrounding jurisdictions could have a timing advantage over retailers looking to enter the alcohol market, explaining they could be processed sooner rather than later.