CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Supporters of putting a local liquor option on the ballot face an uphill battle as a Jan. 10 deadline looms to gather more than 400 signatures, officials say.
“A number of people in our area (live) outside the city limits,” said Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. board member Jane Marie Hurst. “What we need to do is adequately seek out (Marble Falls residents) walking the streets, door to door, which is my intention.”
EDC members and owners of the fledgling Save the World Brewery are circulating a petition that has secured about 200 of the 436 signatures needed to place an item on the May 10 ballot for local elections to allow for extending the boundaries of the on-premises sale and consumption of alcohol.
In 1988, voters approved the liquor option in the Marble Falls city limits at that time.
Since then, the city council has expanded the limits north, south and east through annexation; however, those areas do not automatically become “wet” or permit businesses to apply for sale and consumption licenses.
The issue surfaced last year as Save the World Brewery, located in the city’s Business and Technology Park off U.S. 281 North, began constructing a facility to make and bottle beer at the site and sell its products off-premises.
The owners said they now want to capitalize on legislative changes enacted Jan. 1 that allow microbreweries — like wineries — to apply for a license with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to sell and allow customers to consume alcohol at their facilities.
“It’s good not only for us but good for any future restaurants or anybody who wants to sell alcohol or mixed beverages can do that,” said Dave Rathkamp, owner and brewer. “Not only are we going to increase our tax base here, but it will also draw people from outside the community to Marble Falls. Afterwards, they want to go out to eat or go spend the night somewhere, it’s a great place to do that.”
Some concerns of expanding the “wet” boundaries up to the current city limits involve the potential for increased alcohol-related issues and traffic congestion, according to local law enforcement.
Benefits include an increased city tax base and the potential for more service industry jobs, city officials say.
EDC leaders, who are promoting the petition, say the partially wet situation might block or delay restaurant and other business prospects in the area.
“From an economic development standpoint, it’s important for us to clarify what the alcohol determinations in the City of Marble Falls entails,” EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher said. “It doesn’t help us if there are inconsistent areas where on-premises alcohol consumption is allowed and where it’s not.”
Supporters recently hosted a signing event to add about a dozen signatures to the petition.
Save the World Brewery is hosting a public tour and petition-signing event 4-6 p.m. Jan. 3 at the brewing facility, 1510 Resource Drive in the Business and Technology Park.
“I want to encourage people who want to take part to removing barriers to development in Marble Falls,” Fletcher said. “This is the way that they can participate.”