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Alcohol Sales Top Issue on Ballots (Texas) Mesquite, Rockwall, Fate, Royse City to decide on plans Nov. 6

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47. Alcohol Sales Top Issue on Ballots (Texas)
Mesquite, Rockwall, Fate, Royse City to decide on plans Nov. 6

The Dallas Morning News
September 14, 2007

Alcohol issues will dominate local elections Nov. 6 in eastern Dallas County and Rockwall County, ballots for which were finalized last week.

Voters in Mesquite, Rockwall, Fate and Royse City will consider proposals to allow beer and wine sales in stores. Mesquite and Rockwall voters also will consider whether to lift the requirement that restaurants be private clubs in order to serve alcoholic beverages.

Rockwall County Commissioner Jerry Wimpee said he wasn't sure why three cities in his county were having alcohol elections at the same time but said it could have to do with a desire to promote economic development and attract businesses.

"It could be a Chamber of Commerce-type approach that maybe each city is not competitive," Mr. Wimpee said. "Of course, it may be something as wholesome as wanting to let people exercise their right to be heard."

The Rockwall County town of Mobile City has allowed alcoholic beverage sales since 1990, and Rowlett began allowing beer and wine sales in stores in 2004. Royse City and Fate officials have long sought to attract a grocery store, and some think the prospect of beer and wine profits might help.

Other ballot issues include a property tax rollback in the Royse City school district, filling a City Council vacancy in Sachse and city charter amendments in Royse City.

In Mesquite, a group called Save Our Stores collected more than 8,000 voter signatures on petitions to put the two alcohol-related measures on the ballot; each required 7,584 signatures.

Save Our Stores says Mesquite needs alcohol sales to be economically competitive and to generate sales taxes for city services. The group's members believe sales are being siphoned off to neighboring Garland, which approved beer and wine sales in stores and lifted the private club requirement for restaurants in 2005, and to Balch Springs, which approved similar measures in 2006.

An opposing group, Save Our Community, contends that the measures would harm Mesquite's family-friendly atmosphere and give teenagers greater access to alcohol, in part by enabling beer and wine to be sold near schools.

Save Our Community also was active in adjacent Sunnyvale, where a petition drive for an election to allow beer and wine sales in stores fell short. Sunnyvale businessman Pat Wiley, who led that petition drive, said he would try again in the future.

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