Appeals Court Sinks Challenge to Dallas Alcohol Vote

Attorney says group likely to appeal to Texas Supreme Court

By Lita Beck
|  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 PM CDT
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Appeals Court Sinks Challenge to Dallas Alcohol Vote

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Attorney says group opposed to citywide alcohol sales will likely appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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A state appeals court has rejected a challenge to a November referendum that could allow alcohol sales throughout Dallas.

The city is currently a patchwork of wet and dry areas. One proposal on the ballot would allow stores to sell beer and wine throughout Dallas, and another question would eliminate restrictions on beer and wine sales in restaurants.

A coalition of liquor stores and South Dallas pastors filed a lawsuit in June to block the Nov. 2 vote.

The Texas 5th District Court of Appeals declined on Tuesday to intervene in the vote. Andy Siegel, the attorney representing the group opposed to the vote, said the decision was not a surprise.

He said the group will likely file an appeal with the Texas Supreme Court.

In a statement, Keep the Dollars in Dallas, a group that supports the vote, called the suit a "frivolous lawsuit paid for by the liquor industry."

"It's a desperate attempt to maintain the status quo and deny Dallas residents the right to vote," said Gary Huddleston, chairman. "We are not surprised the courts agree."

The group represented by Siegel is questioning the number of valid signatures on the petition for the referendum. Siegel said the city has not divulged the names of the people who signed the petition. Nearly 70,000 signatures were needed to force an election.

The group also claims that a citywide election cannot change dry restrictions that are already in place.

In Texas, entire counties, individual cities and justice of the peace precincts have local control over what types of alcoholic beverages can be legally sold, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

According to the TABC Code, an election in an incorporated city would prevail over a status determined by a justice precinct unless the JP in wholly contained within the city.

Huddleston said the territory of the justice of the peace precinct that voted to be dry is not all within Dallas city limits, but others have said the precinct is entirely in Dallas.

Dry areas that are annexed by a wet city retain their original status, according to the Texas Secretary of State's website. However, a citywide election can be held to reverse the annexed area's "local option" status. But the election must be citywide and cannot be held in just the dry area.

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