Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
The Irving City Council capped a lengthy and divisive public discussion on Jan. 10 about changing the alcohol laws in restaurants with a proposal that would set different rules for different neighborhoods.
After hearing more than two hours of public comment, the Council finally agreed after midnight to postpone the vote and consider relaxing the ratio on alcoholic beverage sales in restaurants in north Irving, but keep the ratio restricted in south Irving.
“I don’t think there’s a one size fits all plan,” Mayor Beth Van Duyne said.
The current City ordinance sets a ratio of 60/40 for food/alcohol beverage sales at restaurants, but the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and area businesses have asked that the ratio be changed to 30/70.
“From an economic development standpoint, we need more destination type development,” Chris Wallace, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said at the meeting.
Under the proposal, the City would still have the 60/40 law except for in five areas: Las Colinas, Valley Ranch, the Highway 183 overlay district, the Highway 161 overlay district and the Urban Business district. Those areas would be able to petition the Council for higher alcohol limits.
“It’s obvious if we’re going to come up with a solution, it needs to be thought out,” Van Duyne said. “We have a tremendous amount of people on both sides who are telling us opposite things. I think this is a good solution.”
Opponents of changing the ratio said at the meeting that a relaxed ratio could negatively impact the City’s image and also create an environment for bars “on every corner.”
Supporters, however, said changing the ratio would pump more money into the City by bringing in high-end restaurants that would favor the changed ratio. Without the change, the City is poised to lose business.
“We are bleeding tax dollars,” Council member Rose Cannaday said. “I have worked endlessly trying to bring shopping to this city, trying to get some good movie theaters or a Whole Foods or CentralMarket. We are at a crossroads, and we are going to have to make a decision about this.”
In March, the Chamber recommended changing the ratio to 30 percent food sales and 70 percent alcohol sales. Then late last year, the Irving planning and zoning commission voted to recommend the 30/70 ratio.
The Council will consider the proposal at a Jan. 24 meeting.