The requests were from Supermercado Monterrey, 510 Southwest Loop; Cefco Convenience Stores at South Broadway Avenue and Barbee Street; and Sam’s Club, 2025 SSW Loop.
When voters approved beer and wine sales in November, a city ordinance required that any retail outlets selling alcohol must be more than 300 feet from a church or school.
Council members agreed they needed time to study the city statute and possibly make changes in the way it is written so retailers would not have to come before the council each time to request a variance to allow them to sell alcohol.
“It would behoove us to look at the ordinances and tweak them,” Sam Mezayek, a council member who represents District 1, said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Mezayek added that he had concerns about approving the variance for some retailers and not for others. “I don’t want to set a precedent by voting yes or no,” he said.
Planning and Zoning Board members denied requests in early February from CEFCO Convenience Stores on South Broadway Avenue to sell alcohol because of its proximity to the First United Pentecostal Church of Tyler, Heather Nick, city planner, said.
The board also denied a request from the Supermercado Monterrey, which is within 300 feet of the Jones-Boshears Elementary School in Tyler ISD, she said.
Although the school district did not oppose the request, board members denied it.
Both stores appealed the denials from the Planning and Zoning Board. The First United Pentecostal Church of Tyler protested the request by CEFCO and submitted a letter in opposition, Ms. Nick said.
A retail outlet seeking to sell alcoholic beverages must be outside of the required 300-foot distance from the store’s front door to any of the doors leading into a church.
Planning and Zoning Board members voted to grant Sam’s Club’s request for a variance allowing the store to sell alcoholic beverages because it requires a membership to shop there, Ms. Nick said. The store was within the 300-foot distance, because when the distance to a school is in question, the measurement is considered to be property line to property line, Ms. Nick said. Sam’s Club is near All Saints Episcopal School.
Darryl Bowdre, who represents District 2, and Mayor Barbara Bass agreed with Mezayek.
Mark Whatley, who represents District 5, said he didn’t want to impede business sales, but all businesses will have different dynamics in play when they apply for the variances. He promised that city leaders would not take too long reviewing the statute.
Two attorneys spoke to the council on behalf of the retailers seeking the variances and encouraged them to approve the measures. Jordan Holt, of Dallas, said he represented Ruben Martinez, owner of the Supermercado Monterrey at 510 Southwest Loop.
Martinez, he said, had purchased the shopping center there where the store is located and spent a lot of money to renovate and maintain it.
“The center is fully occupied and people are waiting to get in there,” Holt said. He added that Tyler Independent School District had no opposition and that it would “be an economic disadvantage for us to not sell alcohol.”
Kyle Hill, an Austin attorney, also advocated for the retailers, saying their cashiers and store managers are specially trained in making alcohol sales and in knowing Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules for sales.
City Planner Heather Nick reported that since voters had passed the ordinance in November, the city has received 68 requests from retailers who applied with the TABC to sell alcohol and the city clerk has approved 60. Those approved retailers were eligible to complete the TABC permitting process, she said.
The city has received only five variance requests, she said. The Planning and Zoning Board denied one permit requesting a variance and the three requests on Wednesday were tabled. One request will come before the Planning and Zoning Board in April.
Ms. Boyett manages the continuing education of city employees along with New Employee Orientation, Leadership Academy, the Mayor’s Citizens Academy, the City’s Toastmaster club and the City’s “Fit To A T” Wellness Committee. Ms. Boyett started working for the city of Tyler in November 2005 as the special projects coordinator where she planned and organized environmental initiatives with the Keep Tyler Beautiful Board. She earned an associate degree from Tyler Junior College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas.
The council also approved the restructure of a lease-purchase agreement for some emergency equipment for city emergency dispatchers and will take bids from Tyler banks to finance it.
Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said the city purchased a new radio system for police use in 2009, including hand-held radios for each officer and each car at a cost of $2.1 million from Motorola. The city owes $1.42 million to Motorola at an interest rate of 4.12 percent.
They did not replace the consoles for emergency dispatchers at that time, he said, because there was no need. The consoles, which date from 2002, now need to be replaced because Motorola no longer offers the necessary support to repair and maintain them, Swindle said.
The cost for the consoles is expected to be $437,000. The plan is to refinance the amount of the new console cost and the $1.42 million still owed for the radios at a reduced interest rate, which potentially could save the city $130,000, Swindle said. The reduced rate is expected to be at 3 percent or less.
“It’s almost like we would get the consoles for $300,000 by doing this,” he said.