The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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University Park votes wet

University Park citizens ended the controversy surrounding the decision of whether or not to go “wet” Tuesday night.

Both propositions regarding the sale of alcohol in University Park passed comfortably, with more than 8,000 University Park residents voting.

Proposition 1, which allows for the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption, passed 56.75 percent to 43.25 percent.

Proposition 2, which allowed for the sale of mixed beverages in restaurants passed almost two to one at 65.34 percent to 34.66 percent.

This resolution came after a hard-fought battle by University Park mayor, Dick Davis. Davis felt that allowing the sale of alcohol in his city would compromise the “character” of the town.

Davis and former University Park mayor, Roy C. Coffee, each donated $12,000 to a political action committee that was created to fight the passage of Propositions 1 and 2.

Their donations made up the majority of the group’s $25,000-budget, which funded mailers, pamphlets, door hangers and even robo-calls made to University Park residents in the days before the election.

One week before the election, Davis sent a mailer out to the citizens of University Park, with a picture of a flashy town complete with bars and strip clubs emblazoned on its cover, with the title “If Propositions 1 and 2 are not defeated…The character of University Park is in danger of being lost forever.”

The mailer said that the passage of the propositions would “dramatically liberalize the drinking laws of University Park,” “significantly decrease property values,” and “erode the positive stewardship of UP children, young people and students.”

SMU has a history of refraining from official positions on University Park-related issues, unless directly involving the campus. Coinciding with this practice, President R. Gerald Turner had originally been publicly neutral on the issue.

However, after Davis asked for his evaluation, Turner publicly took a stance in a letter to the mayor, which was then sent to University Park residents.

“I do have serious concerns about continuous access to over-the-counter alcohol sales in package or convenience stores located close to the campus,” he wrote.

Turner mentioned that his main concern is the likelihood of underage students acquiring alcohol if it is sold in a close proximity to campus.

“Such adjacent, daily access would encourage greater underage consumption through easier individual alcohol purchase or bulk purchases facilitated by those 21 and older,” he wrote.

These purchases, as Turner stated, could then easily be brought to residence halls.

He continued to reference when SMU bought the Mrs. Baird’s site. In doing so, SMU demanded that the 7-Eleven on the land had to stop selling alcohol.

Many University Park residents considered the language of the mailers “fear-mongering” and the letter from Turner an example of political arm-twisting. Proponents of the law say that University Park is losing money by staying dry while surrounding cities go wet.

One of these “wet” cities is Highland Park, University Park’s next-door neighbor, which has allowed alcohol sales for over 60 years.

Until University Park’s citizens voted to go wet on Tuesday, customers could only have a drink with their dinner if they held a “private club membership.”

While private clubs are exempt from liquor laws governing dry cities, it does mean that customers have to show identification and fill out paperwork before buying a drink.

Marc Hall, the owner of Peggy Sue BBQ, Cisco Grill and Amore in Snider Plaza, believed the private club requirements were unreasonable and restrictive. In an interview with The Daily Campus, Hall said that his opponents “never really appreciated what it was like to own a restaurant.”

“It was ridiculous talking to these people who are from New York and want to have a beer with their chopped beef sandwich and you have to say ‘well, you have to be a member of our private club,'” Hall said.

Hall was also concerned with how remaining dry would affect the city of University Park monetarily. He and other business owners were concerned when they found out many parts of Dallas surrounding University Park would have wet/dry votes on the ballot during midterms.

“We thought, if it passes in Dallas, and we were thinking it would, it would literally leave us a dry hole,” Hall said.

Hall said that after 10 or 20 years this would begin to seriously affect business in University Park.

“Business owners would begin to think, ‘if I can just go a couple of minutes away from here and sell alcohol, why should I do business here?'” Hall said. “They would all leave.”

Hall is part of the University Park Merchants Association, which led the petition to get the vote to go wet on the ballot this November by collecting over 3,000 signatures from University Park residents.

The passage of the Propositions on Tuesday placated Hall’s concerns. According to University Park’s website: “University Park grocery and convenience stores will be able to stock beer and wine.  Also, private club requirements have been eliminated for restaurants that serve alcohol.”

Retailers in the area are starting to prepare license applications to sell alcohol, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Already, 7-Eleven is getting ready to apply for applications for each of its 42 locations in the affected area.

Turner won’t have to worry about an increase of underage consumption today. According to University Park City Secretary Liz Spector, the county clerk must first verify the outcome of the vote.

The legislation then moves on to the Secretary of State and then to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Only after that can businesses begin to put in applications to the TABC to serve alcohol.

The city, Dallas County and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) then review applications, which usually takes two months. The TABC is expecting nearly 2,000 permit applications.

Spector said that University Park’s Community Development Department will review the applications in order to ensure that the businesses are within the proper zone and are following distance requirements.

“Typically, places that sell alcohol must be 300 feet away from things like school, churches and libraries.”

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