Round Rock officials approved a variance request to an ordinance banning the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a school during its May 12 meeting.
The request, which City Attorney Steve Sheets described as "very unusual," asked the city to grant a variance to a city ordinance barring the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a school, church or public hospital for Luna's Tacos, which opened in 2020. The restaurant is located across the street from Round Rock High School, with 268 feet separating its front door from the high school's property line.
"I think this is the first time in 40 years that the council has been asked to consider a variance from this," Sheets said.
Luna's Tacos owner Jose Padilla and general manager Kelly Paulson asked the council to grant the exception and forgive the 32 feet preventing them from serving alcoholic beverages to customers.
Between construction and COVID-19, Paulson said being able to offer beer and margaritas to customers would help keep Luna's Tacos afloat.
"This will ensure the survival of the restaurant, because right now, we are just, like, borderline between the construction going on around there," Paulson said.
Padilla said he was unaware of how close the two properties were when he leased the building, and that he cannot break his lease to move operations elsewhere. He also said being unable to serve alcohol has cost him customers.
"Unfortunately, I had a partner who did not do the research on this before," Padilla said. "It turns out that she assumed that because of the property line distance, we should be able to qualify. We didn't learn about this until we started applying for it."
Sheets said the City Council has the ultimate authority to grant exceptions to this ordinance, if enforcement creates an undue hardship on an applicant, among other conditions.
The motion to approve the variance passed 6-1, with Council Member Hilda Montgomery being the lone "no" vote.
Round Rock City Council approves alcohol sale variance for Luna's Tacos
Round Rock officials approved a variance request to an ordinance banning the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a school during its May 12 meeting. (Steffanie Bartlett/Community Impact Newspaper)