As the metroplex mushrooms and what used to be out-of-town becomes intown, there are bound to be growing pains in the suburbs. One of the biggest problems we’ve noticed so far is that of liquor control. There are no uniform laws on liquor sales in Dallas and surrounding counties. As a result, small governing bodies are forced to referee the battles between wet vs. dry. Three such cases have cropped up during the past few months.

In October, Pizza Inn, Inc., filed a federal lawsuit against the Irving City Council in hopes of having the Irving liquor zoning ordinance declared unconstitutional. It seems that when deciding whether or not to grant liquor licenses to two Pizza Inn restaurants, some council members said that Pizza Inns were not “quality restaurants”; the Irving ordinance states that only “quality restaurants” can serve alcohol. Now the city might have a double whammy coming: Besides attempting to have the ordinance declared unconstituinal, the Pizza Inn people are also seeking $2 million in damages for harm to their restaurants’ reputations.

Rockwall recently went through a battle, too, when owners of a Chinese restaurant wanted to serve liquor. The restaurateurs claimed that the practice was legal because they had obtained a state license. The Rockwall City Council claimed that the restaurant needed a special-use permit. After a record sized crowd appeared at a council meeting, the council determined that the sale of alcohol in private clubs is permitted in a general retail district with a special-use permit. The individual case of the Chinese restaurant has not been decided.

Of course, most recently, there’s the case of Melissa, Texas, in Collin County where two factions of approximately 600 residents petitioned for extremely contrasting causes. The first proposition was to ban the already-legal sale of beer and wine in Melissa. The second was to allow for the sale of hard liquor. After some hefty hootin’ and hollerin’, both propositions failed and Melissa was right back where it started.

The problems with liquor in the suburbs won’t subside. In fact, we predict that there will be many more upsets to come.


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