Alcohol Lawsuit: Temporary restraining order extended - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/18/09

Alcohol Lawsuit: Temporary restraining order extended

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By Ann Wyatt Little  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It will be at least another 90 days before you can get beer, wine or liquor

in most of Lubbock. Both sides, plus the judge, agreed to extend a recent temporary restraining order and say they are ready to negotiate zoning ordinances. It's difficult to put a time stamp on exactly when you will start seeing alcohol inside city limits.

In a brief court hearing Jeff Hartsell, a city attorney, said retailers had raised points "worthy of consideration" in the lawsuit. "We agreed to give the city 90 days to adopt an ordinance that moves closer to legality," says Attorney Zach Brady who represents Pinkie's and Majestic Liquor stores.

Why does Brady say 90 days? According to City Planner Randy Henson, all of that time will be needed. "90 day process is what it takes to change a zoning code. It may sound like a long time that's why its stretched out a bit," says Henson.

In a brief hearing Monday, Judge Sam Medina told both parties it was wise to spend efforts negotiating. But what exactly is at issue? "The current allegation is that we're not treating establishments that have liquor permits the same as other establishments in that same district that don't have a liquor permit," says Henson.

To put that into simple terms, Brady says the city can zone, but it's discriminatory to impose different codes for wet and dry stores by imposing square footage requirements. The current zoning code allows the sale of alcoholic beverages in grocery stores with 35,000 square feet or more, but it restricts package liquor stores to 3,000 square feet or less. "We need to come to an agreement on square footage for the store is what the bottom line is," says City Planner Henson.

Both sides say they're ready to resolve this zoning dispute. "I'd like to say I'm hopeful this shows the city is willing to work to resolve the issue," says Brady. "We've had some good conversations so far," add Henson about the progress.

Brady says if negotiations fail, he'll be back in court but if the issue is resolved the parties will return and throw out the lawsuit. Only when the restraining order is lifted, may new alcohol permits be issued. TABC says it takes anywhere from 1 to 3 months to process permits. Based on the negotiation process, it could be months before alcohol is in grocery and convenience stores.

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