San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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July 11th, 2008
Second restaurant near school gets city code variance to serve alcohol

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

The owner of a second restaurant near Doris Miller Junior High has won a city ordinance variance that allows the establishment to serve beer, wine and cocktails to patrons.

Wimberley resident Herlinda Lopez plans a Pappa Pastas restaurant in the Plaza del Sol mixed-use development currently under construction at 2550 Hunter Road. Owned by David Chiu, a former San Marcos mayor, the development includes 6,270 square feet of retail and office space, four loft apartments and three restaurants totaling 280 seats. These include a Mexican restaurant, Tres Hermanas, for which Chiu won a variance in January under recently relaxed municipal law on alcohol sales in school and church zones.

The city council last week voted 6-1 to grant the conditional use permit for Pappa Pastas with council member Gaylord Bose dissenting.

State law prohibits establishments from serving alcohol on properties that are less than 200 feet from a school or church, measured main entrance to main entrance. A provision of the city’s land development code goes further, prohibiting restaurants that open within 300 feet of an existing church’s or school’s property line from serving alcohol.

Lopez, who ran up against the restriction when she and husband Henry Lopez opened the now-defunct Bucket’s Bar & Grill across San Antonio Street from San Marcos Montessori School, joined Chiu last year in supporting an effort to allow for certain exceptions when the school’s or church’s management does not object. Chiu’s development, for example, faces heavily commercial Hunter Road but the property adjoins the backside of the Miller Junior High campus. The school building itself faces another direction entirely with its primary entrance and parking on Foxtail Run.

The city council approved a change in September that that authorizes the city council to over-ride the 300-foot distance requirement if the business limits its alcohol sales to less than 25 percent of gross revenue — read: no bars or liquor stores — and its owners obtain a letter from the school or church’s governing board agreeing to the restaurant based on “operational characteristics” such as hours.

The San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District board agreed to the variance with the conditions that the restaurant’s owner prints this statement on its menus: “Due to the close proximity of a school campus, please be alert for students and drive carefully. This restaurant will accommodate, as necessary, any individual that needs transportation after consuming alcoholic beverages.”

The 200-feet buffer zone in the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code is still in effect and the conditional use permits must be renewed every year.

DOWNLOADS

» Satellite map of development and surrounding property [pdf]

» Planning and zoning commission summary [pdf]

» Plaza del Sol site plan diagram [pdf]

RELATED IN THE MERCURY

» Effort to relax alcohol restrictions gets first test with former mayor’s Mexican restaurant 01/13/08

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