Irving Considering Options for Alcohol Ordinance Change

Mayor prefers current ordinance, giving businesses option to petition for exception

The Irving City Council will likely decide Thursday if they'll change the city's 30-year-old alcohol ordinance.

Mayor Beth Van Duyne said she came up with a plan earlier this month after talking to community members for about five and a half hours. Van Duyne said she preferred that the city's ordinance be left as it is, but that businesses that need more relaxed ratio of alcohol sales can petition for it..

"We came up with something I think brings something for everybody," she said. "It's a compromise."

The current ordinance allows restaurants to sell up to 40 percent alcohol and 60 percent food. But staff members recommended a different plan -- a 70 percent alcohol ratio in Las Colinas to adopt 70 percent alcohol sales and an increase to 60 percent for the rest of the city.

But Van Duyne said she doesn't think that proposal is what citizens want.

"There are certain areas of the city that don't want it," she said. "They don't have as many regulations in those areas, they're not master-planned communities, and they don't want it."

The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce said it fears that if a decision to raise the alcohol level is not made Thursday, multiple developments, including the $125 million Water Street project could fall apart.

"They have letters of intent with several restaurants now that are pending on this bigger issue, so it's very important that the council act quickly, but it needs to be sensible in terms of pro-business," said Christ Wallace, chamber president and CEO.

NBC 5 found alcoholic beverage ratios run the gamut in the Metroplex.  While it’s 40 percent in Irving, it’s 70 percent in Garland and Grand Prairie.  It’s only 20 percent in Coppell.

The Irving city attorney said Thursday's vote could have a significant impact in the city if council members vote to change the ordinance and allow more alcohol sales.

"Potentially, if you accept all the conditions, it could help in this economy,” said city attorney Charles Anderson. "Does it mean millions to the city itself or the city economy in general?  I'm not sure of the numbers, but it could be a bump up according to what some people are telling us."

Anderson said the City Council is not required to make a decision Thursday and that the issue may be studied further.

The City Council's work session starts at 2 p.m. Thursday. The special meeting begins at 5 p.m.

NBC 5's Mark Schnyder contributed to this report.

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