City council strikes down zoning exception


San Angelo city council members voted four to three against an amendment to city ordinance regarding the sale of alcohol near schools. Several members of city council voiced disapointment and alarm at the suggestion, citing that it could set a negative precedent of allowing exceptions.

“I guess I grew up in a time where churches and schools were well respected,” said San Angelo Councilwoman Billie DeWitt. “There would have been no consideration to serve alcohol within the designated area of a school or church; so this was something that i feel very strongly about that we shouldn’t do it.”

The city planning and development services requested a change to  Chapter 5, “business and commerce”, Article 5.02″ alcoholic beverages regulations. That ordinance states that alcohol can not be vended within 300 feet of school property. Citing a desire for further economic development, the change would let city council determine case by case if a restaurant could sell alcohol in the area.

Planning and Development Services Director Jon James gave a brief overview of why they made the proposal. “Thats a stretch of Chadbourne, North Chadbourne Street, that we are trying to actively to encourage some of those vacant older buildings to be used for restaurants or businesses or something else,” he explained.

The state allows cities to make allowances, and the San Angelo’s Central Business District overlaps the school exclusion zone, to the tune of about one city block. However, given the higher risk of alcohol related incidents so near school property, and the precedent of such allowances, the council opted to strike it down. This move may encourage a less controversial business, such as a bookstore or coffee shop, to move into the contested space.

“I beleive strongly in our abilitiy to educate our kids,” said San Angelo mayor Brenda Gunter. “To make sure that we listen to our school districts in terms of what they want or need or feel is in the best interest of the children.”

For more on the San Angelo city council, click here. To watch the ruling as it took place, click here.

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