McKinney residents may soon be able to purchase packaged liquor and spirits without having to leave the city.

Voters in McKinney will consider a ballot proposition Nov. 8 on whether to allow package liquor stores to open in the city, potentially paving the way for new businesses—such as Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods, and Total Wine & More. City Council called the election in October after the city received a petition in January from representatives of local businesses and the McKinney Chamber of Commerce.

City and chamber officials said having liquor stores in McKinney would be more convenient for residents who have to travel to neighboring cities to buy liquor. The change could also boost the city’s sales tax revenue by more than $1 million a year, according to estimates.

“We are not asking for full bars, it is just for package liquor stores in McKinney,” said Lisa Hermes, president and CEO of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce.

If the measure passes, money that is being spent elsewhere would stay within the city, according to McKinney Mayor George Fuller.

“Right now, all of those sales tax dollars are captured in our sister cities. I am looking forward to capturing those sales tax dollars here in our city,” Fuller said. “People that want to purchase alcohol, they’re going to do it, and I’d rather them do it and have that benefit our city versus sales tax dollars being captured across the highway.”

The petition to allow liquor stores in McKinney received 22,717 valid signatures, according to City Council A “For” vote would allow liquor stores, and an “Against” vote would not allow liquor stores in McKinney. The measure will appear on the ballot as: “The legal sale of all alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption only," according to City Council meeting documents. The petition needed at least 21,847 to call a vote. The number of signatures is equal to 35% of the number of votes cast by McKinney residents in the most recent election for governor, according to Texas Petition Strategies, which gathered signatures for the petition.

Leading up to the November election, McKinney Chamber of Commerce officials said they plan to further promote the proposition and aim to educate voters. The proposition will be the last item on the ballot for McKinney voters, and Hermes said she is encouraging people to read all the way through to the end of the ballot and vote on the proposition.

Boost in local dollars

This will not be the first time McKinney voters have seen a proposition regarding alcohol. In 2004, about 77% of McKinney voters approved a proposition to allow beer and wine sales at local grocery and convenience stores. A separate proposition also allowed liquor sales for consumption at the city’s bars and restaurants and passed with about 75% of the vote.

A 2008 study by Texas Economist Ray Perryman found McKinney should see an increase in sales, jobs and local tax revenue if the proposition is approved.The U.S. Census Bureau places McKinney’s population at 206,654 as of Jan. 1. Based on the calculations of a city with a population of 150,000, allowing package liquor sales in McKinney could result in as much as an additional $59.9 million in annual spending, 611 more jobs and another $1.34 million in local sales tax revenue, data from the Perryman study shows.

These are conservative estimates, Hermes said. She pointed out that not only do people travel to other cities to purchase their spirits and liquor, but they can easily spend money at other businesses while they are in the area, resulting in an even greater sales tax loss to McKinney.

“When you’re doing your errands on a Saturday and you go down to Allen to Total Wine to buy maybe tequila for the margaritas you’re going to have at your party that night, you’re probably going to swing through the Target right there. I know I’ve done that,” Hermes said.

Potential sales tax revenue from the proposition would go toward economic development, community development, the city’s general fund and more, Fuller said. The additional funds would also be used for “quality of life amenities” and subsidizing property taxes, according to Fuller.

“If it doesn’t pass, we miss out on those things, and our sister cities will reap the benefits of those dollars spent in their communities,” Fuller said.

Because the city, the McKinney Economic Development Corp. and the McKinney Community Development Corp. stand to benefit from the sales tax revenue, these entities cannot legally support the measure, Hermes said. However, because the chamber of commerce does not directly benefit from sales tax revenue, it can back the petition, Hermes said.

“We are an entity that supports the efforts of our city and efforts of our EDC and CDC. And we engage in a lot of advocacy. We saw this as an area that we could really help ... be able to keep those dollars here locally and put them to good use,” she said.

Pathway to development

While the vote has yet to take place, Hermes said a few entities are keeping an eye on McKinney’s liquor laws and could be ready to act should the laws change. Andy Doyle, owner of McKinney Wine Merchant, said he is looking forward to the November vote. Doyle has owned the business since 2011 and made the move from his original location in downtown McKinney to a larger space on US 75. Doyle said the move expanded his floor space from 900 to 3,200 square feet in anticipation of being able to sell liquor.

“When I left downtown, I traded the quaint charm of downtown for having a vape store [and a] massage parlor ... as neighbors, but at this shopping center ... no one else can sell alcohol,” Doyle said, citing a stipulation of his lease that only excludes the CVS in the shopping center.He is also anticipating an influx of competing package liquor stores, but said he thinks his “loyal customer base” will likely insulate his business from any instability.

“There will be kind of like this little gold rush that comes into McKinney ... and then after a few years, the competition works its way into the market,” Doyle said.

Permits and zoning

If the ballot measure passes, businesses interested in selling package liquor will have to complete and submit an application to the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and to the city for the types of permits it desires along with the payment of any applicable fees, City Manager Paul Grimes said. Once these are submitted, the city and the TABC would review the application and issue the permits if the applications are approved.Zoning is in place in commercial corridors of the city to allow for retail liquor sales. If a business wants to set up outside of those areas, a rezoning request must be submitted and considered, Grimes said.

For businesses that sell alcohol, the city code also has spacing and distance restrictions in relation to schools, day cares, hospitals and churches. These restrictions would not change if the alcohol proposition passes in November, he said.

Hermes said there has been no formal opposition to the measure that she is aware of, although she has been told some people have a moral opposition to it. However, she said she also knows people who personally do not consume alcohol who are voting for the proposition in an effort to keep sales tax dollars in McKinney.

“We’re not legalizing drinking,” Hermes said. “It’s already perfectly legal for someone to consume liquor in McKinney, whether at a restaurant or even in their own homes. It’s just not legal to purchase [packaged liquor] here. So we’re just cleaning up what is kind of an antiquated system.”

She said she feels “optimistic” about results of the November election, considering the number of signatures that were collected.

“We know that people want to see package liquor stores, like a Spec’s or a Total Wine, in our community,” she said.