Public service can be a thankless job, especially when you have to sift through bureaucratic minutiae such as items 35 and 36 on the agenda for next Wednesday's Dallas City Council meeting: a pair of public hearings regarding variances to the rules about alcohol sales near churches and schools.
The first hearing is about the sale of mixed beverages at the Romano's Macaroni Grill on Northwest Highway. The restaurant is technically prohibited from selling them because it sits within 300 feet of Northwest Bible Church. But if you're thinking, "Wait, I've been served a mixed drink there before," you're right; the restaurant was granted a variance five years ago. The owners have to be granted another one only because they're finally getting a "wet" permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as opposed to a "private club" permit.
In making his client's case for the variance, attorney Marcus Schwartz points out that the only part of Northwest Bible Church that is within 300 feet of Macaroni Grill is the door to the church's gym. The door to the sanctuary, he writes, is actually 600 feet away.
My client is of the position that just as Texas courts have held that a school stadium on school property does not convert a stadium into a school for purposes of TABC measurements ... a church gymnasium on church property does not convert said gymnasium into a church for alcohol measurement distances.
Distances are also clarified by the attorney for Central Market, which already sells beer and wine at Preston and Royal for off-site consumption. But the store's management wants people to be able to drink in its cafe and cooking classrooms. The problem is, Central Market technically sits within 300 feet of St. Mark's School of Texas.
But wait, says attorney Myron Dornic; that 300 feet is a misleading figure on both ends. While the St. Mark's campus is within 300 feet of the 8-acre Preston Oaks Shopping Center, Central Market is on the north side of said shopping center. "The store entrance is actually located at a walking distance of over 1,477 feet along the nearest public sidewalks to closest corner of the school campus," he writes.
But that's not my favorite part of Dornic's argument. This is:
The portion of the campus that is within 300 feet of the shopping center tract is a very small edge of the school property located at that corner of the campus that is farthest from any school building entrance or active student area. In fact, it appears to include only an area that is outside the perimeter fence of the campus.
So, if you want to weigh in on either of these variances, the public hearings will start at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.