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Despite protest, commission OKs liquor rezoning

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by Joseph Caterine

The Planning Commission has endorsed a rezoning case that will result in a Twin Liquors store opening near the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. Despite opposition from Austin Neighborhoods Council President David King, lack of objection from the school itself resulted in a unanimous decision by the commission at its Oct. 27 meeting.

Commissioner James Schissler motioned to approve the case, seconded by Commissioner Fayez Kazi, with the added prohibited uses of bail bonds and pawn shops. The motion passed 12-0, with Commissioner James Shieh absent.

Applicant ASC/Bearcreek Properties Ltd. had requested a zoning change from General Commercial Services-Vertical Mixed Use (CS-V) to Commercial-Liquor Sales-Vertical Mixed Use (CS-1-V) for a section of the strip mall near the intersection of South Lamar and Ben White Boulevard, so that their client Twin Liquors could relocate a nearby store and expand their operations.

During the public hearing, King presented a Google map showing a 294-foot distance between the school’s property and the section of the strip mall where the property being rezoned is located. According to City Code Section 8-3-4, alcoholic beverages may not be sold within 300 feet of a church, public school or public hospital unless City Council approves a waiver or the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission provides an exemption.

King also pointed to the possibility of AISD extending the limit for this particular school, which is allowed by TABC code. “I think AISD and the Ann Richards school should chime in on this,” he said.

An aerial map of the school was provided to the Planning Commission by city staff, illustrating that the distance between the school and the place of business was actually more than 300 feet. Andrew Moore, the case manager from the Planning and Zoning Department, said that measuring to the place of business rather than the property line is typical in these kinds of rezoning cases.

Ron Thrower from Thrower Design, the agent of the applicant, said that their application is consistent with zoning cases of this sort. “We’re doing something that’s been interpreted one way for many, many years,” he said.

Moore also informed the Planning Commission that AISD and the Ann Richards School principal had been contacted and that if they had wanted to extend the limit, they would have by now. Commission Tom Nuckols asked what the principal’s response was. “’Thank you for letting me know,’” Moore said.

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