MAYOR

Frisco Alcohol Sales Extension Heads to November Ballot

The issue of extending the hours alcohol can be sold in Frisco will go on the November ballot after the city council made the decision in a 4-1 vote Monday in a special session.

Councilmen Jeff Cheney and Will Sowell expressed concern that the decision would appear "rushed" to the public, specifically, that the public notice of the meeting was posted on Friday for a Monday session.

Mayor Maher Maso replied he believes the city acted with the utmost transparency, adding that in Frisco, "things happen fast."

Monday was the last day an item could be voted onto the November ballot.

Before the vote, Cheney said he'd rather see the measure added to the May 2015 ballot instead of November 2014.

"I support this. I want it to pass," Cheney said. "I do not support the process."

Councilman Scott Johnson, who said he has been opposed to extending late night hours in years past, spoke in favor of the measure on Monday saying he was concerned that by not putting late night hours on the ballot the city would be putting its new mixed use developments, like the Cowboys facility and Wade Park, at "a competitive disadvantage."

The current rules set a cutoff for alcohol sales at midnight every night of the week except for Saturdays, when bars can remain open until 1 a.m.

The proposal for the ballot would extend hours until 2 a.m., much like the policy of neighboring cities.

"It's long overdue," said Ryan Fairbanks, district manager for Tailgaters Sports Bar and Grill in Frisco.

According to Fairbanks, not only is the current cutoff impacting his establishment economically, he fears about intoxicated drivers heading south once Frisco bars close early.

"At 11:30 at night, we're full," Fairbanks said. "But our crowd gets up, gets in their cars, and drives to Plano."

"These people are not done. They're just going somewhere we they can continue," Fairbanks continued.

It isn't the first time the issue of alcohol sales became an issue in Frisco. In 2008, voters denied a ballot measure for later hours.

Jo Hooper, a lifetime Frisco resident who said her family roots in Collin County go back generations, organized a PAC against extended hours six years ago.

She said she still feels today that Frisco has a unique character and tendency toward family values that is in itself attractive. She said she does not want to see change compromise the "character" of her community.

"All of the people that bought land, that developed and rented here, they did so with these laws intact," Hooper said. "They knew what they were getting into."

NBC 5 reached out to economic organizations, like the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, on Monday.
In a statement, chamber representatives said they had not yet formed a public position on the issue.

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