Chamber President Tony Felker said after the local option election last year to allow the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages failed, the chamber received a lot of questions and feedback about what the voters wanted.
Felker said the problem with last year’s proposal was that it was multifaceted—it would have allowed not only packaged liquor stores but also full bars, without much regulation from the city on where they could be open.
“In the process of going through [the election], a lot of people told us that we needed to look at the packaged store issue by itself,” Felker said. “We heard the voters, so that’s where we are at the moment—discussing the issue and finding out whether or not it would really benefit Frisco.”
Felker said if the chamber were to bring forward a petition to allow liquor stores, it would be for the November ballot.
The chamber is also mulling what it would take for the city to create special districts that would allow higher percentages of alcohol to be sold at establishments in certain areas.
Currently, the city of Frisco requires businesses to garner no more than 50 percent of their revenue from alcohol sales—effectively meaning that businesses that want to sell alcohol must operate as a restaurant.
If an establishment wants to derive more than 50 percent of sales from alcohol, it currently has to apply for a private-club permit and obtain a specific-use permit. Applying for a permit includes additional fees, and the business also needs approval of the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission and council.
City leaders opposed the May ballot measure because they said it would have eroded the city’s local control.
City Council Member Bob Allen, who was a vocal opponent of the ballot measure in May, said most people were opposed to last year’s measure not because of liquor stores, but because of the potential for full bars in the city. He said he does not know whether the proposal would have faced the same opposition if it had involved only liquor stores.
Allen said most people may want big-box liquor stores, but if a measure were to pass, it could bring in smaller liquor stores, which he said might have unintended consequences such as an increase in crime.
“These businesses could have good intention, but there are other things that come with it, and people will have to weigh that and be part of the discussion,” Allen said.
The chamber is also looking into how the city could create special districts that would allow a business to apply for a private-club permit without going through the specific-use permit process. These businesses would most likely be those in the developments along the $5 Billion Mile.
The city of Plano approved a similar measure in 2009.
Felker said he has visited with businesses that have expressed concern with the city’s current alcohol regulations.
He said out of the two issues the chamber is looking into, the creation of special districts is the one it is working toward more rapidly.
Before a city can enact zoning restrictions, however, voters would have to approve the sale of any particular type of alcohol, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokesperson Chris Porter said.
“Once voters approve the sale of alcohol in a city, the local government can use zoning regulations to control the placement of businesses which derive at least 75 percent of their business from the sale of alcohol for on-premise consumption,” Porter said. “In many cases, this means businesses such as bars and nightclubs are restricted from locations near residential areas, schools or churches.”
Mayor Pro Tem Will Sowell said developers and prospective businesses have not contacted him to ask for special districts to make their business model work.
“I’m a big believer of the free market, and our market participants are the hotels, the restaurants and the entertainment venues,” he said. “And if they were to come talk to me or engage the city [about this issue], then I would be willing to have that discussion.”