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Marble Falls to look at bar-school distance rule

MARBLE FALLS — The City Council could soon vote on a measure that would increase the distance required between schools and establishments that sell alcohol.

Mayor George Russell said he expects an update from City Attorney Patty Akers at the council’s next meeting March 22, adding officials are looking to bring the city’s alcohol rules in line with those from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“In that scenario, the thing everyone is concerned about is the distance (of bars) from schools,” Russell told The Daily Tribune Wednesday. “The thing that has come up is a proximity issue.”

The switch, if approved, won’t affect any existing bars or nightclubs, officials said.

Currently, the city measures a bar’s distance from a school or church by a “door-to-door” method, measuring the linear distance from each establishment’s entrance.

However, according to updated TABC rules, those measurements should be no less than 300 feet from property line to property line.

“When the new bar and laundromat opened on RR 1431 (across from Marble Falls Elementary School), there was a furor over it,” Russell said. “Our ordinance right now is not in line with the TABC.”

TABC rules give cities and counties the option of enacting the distance requirement, according to state statutes, though cities choosing to enforce the rules must abide by the state’s guidelines.

Also Monday, the council passed a new rule limiting so-called “nightclubs” — establishments that derive at least 75 percent of their revenue from the sale of alcohol — to the downtown Main Street district, effectively prohibiting future bars from opening in the commercial areas along 1431 and U.S. 281.

The change was considered earlier as part of a larger proposal to extend the hours nightspots could sell alcohol.

Though that measure failed, the council did pass the location ordinance as part of an effort to make downtown Marble Falls the city’s entertainment hub. The rule doesn’t affect other alcohol-selling establishments such as restaurants or stores, Akers said.

In other action, the council approved a pair of requests for hotel occupancy tax funds of $5,000 apiece from the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Main Street Association.

Russell said the Chamber’s share will be used to print tourism brochures promoting Marble Falls, while the rest of the cash will fund the Main Street group’s Lone Star Adult Soap Box Derby, set to race through downtown June 18-20.

The council also approved a request by Police Chief Mark Whitacre to apply for a $60,000 federal grant to pay for a new mobile command center.

“The only reason the council approved that was because there was no matching-fund requirement for the city,” Russell said.

The council also unanimously approved the creation of a master-plan committee charged with creating a 20-year plan for the downtown district.

The committee, comprised of business leaders and residents from across the city, will hold its first meeting in April.

Also at the March 22 meeting, council members could vote to move their regular meetings to the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

The council currently meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Russell said the move, if approved, is designed to give city staff more time to prepare for the meetings.

“Right now, it’s hard coming off of the weekend for them to get ready because there’s sometimes happenings during the weekends that they have to take into account,” he said.

City Secretary Christina Laine said the council could vote to move the meeting time up to 6 p.m. from 6:30 p.m. in an effort to adjourn earlier.

The March 22 meeting gets under way at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, 800 Third St.

chris@thepicayune.com

 

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