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Bars & their proximity to churches in Texas


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#1 lobster

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 10:27 AM

I can't seem to pull up the state statute on how many feet away the front door of an establishment that sells alcohol must be away from the property of a church (provided the church existed before the bar), but I had the understanding that it is actually up to each church's specific discretion if they cared to pursue the restriction on a case by case basis.

Does anyone know the specifics on this law, and are there any examples in Fort Worth of a church waiving this restriction?

This will probably come up more in the near future, because if in fact the law is 300 feet , and if I'm not mistaken, it appears street level spaces on the Tower's south face may have to adhere to this restriction -- let alone anything that's planned for the street level of Landrum's new project.

We all know about the old Fifth Street Pub (more recently the failed Obee's sandwich shop) and how they had to re-route the front entrance to that horrible alleyway next to the Pour House's doors, but I wonder if that could have been averted altogether..

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#2 JBB

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 10:44 AM

Chapter 4 of this link contains FW's ordinances concerning Alcoholic Beverage sales.

You're right about the limit being 300 feet, door to door. In Texas, the restriction is determined by the city or county, as is any variance. I have to wonder: Is (Are) there already establishment(s) selling alcohol within 300 feet of First Christian downtown?

#3 lobster

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 11:51 PM

weeel, a while back when Obee's opened, i did a lil' story about that spot and the history of the Fifth Street Pub and their struggles with having to reroute their front door to the alleyway. If you've been to Mikado you know about their strange double doors on 5th that enter into a seemingly pointless hallway -- with their throck. side double doors permanently locked. The Pour House is the only other place nearby that sells booze and their door is farther away from mikado's.

During that time I did a little improvised measuring, and I want to say from what I recall, Mikado's current entrance door is nowhere near 300 feet from the church's steps, but more like 160. I wonder if they try to count the steps leading down the inner hallway to the other door leading into the restaurant?

For an unscientific measure of how far 300 feet is, we can envision a football field (100 yds = approx 300 ft) with the church in one end zone. According to one of John's earlier posts, a city block is 200'x200'. If it's true that from the church's steps to the corner of 5th & throck right outside mikado is LESS THAN 100', then even BLADES (and maybe even Fox & Hound) would fall into violation!

#4 Sam Stone

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 06:32 AM

That is assuming they are using that distance as a radius. I wonder if it is possible that the distance follows the streets and bends at right angles. This would make it longer and would be just as silly and arbitrary as the law itself.

Speaking of arbitrary liquor laws, Indiana has a few. While it is legal to sell beer, wine, and hard liquor in grocery stores and drug stores here, no alcohol can be sold on Sundays, and only package stores can sell refrigerated beer. That's right, it's illegal to sell cold beer in a supermarket!

#5 AndyN

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 09:46 AM

From some of the discussions I have seen about surveying these distances, it is definitely walking route distance, not "as the crow flies". The relocated Italian restaurant in Azle (Frenki's Capriccio?) just barely squeezed into their new lot across from Walnut Creek Elementary by putting the door at the back of the building.
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#6 John T Roberts

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 11:04 AM

The law states that it is from door to door and along property lines. Going back to the First Christian Church. The front door is on the second level and it is up some steps. The stairway forces the building line to be set back from the street at least 25 feet. Lobster, in figuring for this condition, one must also remember that the downtown street right of way is either 60 feet or 80 feet. Throckmorton is 80 feet wide. To calculate the actual distance Mikado Sushi and the Pour House are from the church, a field measurement would be required due to the traversing of the steps in front of the church. Let's assume the doors are 25' off of the street. You would have 25 feet from the door to the property line, approximately 150 feet going north to the intersection of 5th and Throckmorton. Then you would head 80 feet for the width of the street and that would leave approximately 45 feet before any door of an establishment selling alcohol could be placed. Lots with an alley are 95 feet deep, so the door to Mikado Sushi is pretty close to 45 feet back from Throckmorton. The Pour House's door is further east providing for a greater distance. Therefore, it appears that these businesses from door to door, and following property lines at right angles are far enough apart. All of the other restaurants appear to be further away. However, ones inside The Tower on the south side of the building will fall within the 300 foot parameters. 5th Street is 60 feet wide. Again, all of the measurements would have to be taken on the streets to make a final determination where entrances are located in relationship to the church doors.

#7 gdvanc

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 12:55 PM

a few quick comments about the restriction of alcohol sales within 300' of certain institutions:


The restriction is against alcohol sales within 300' of a school (public and in some cases private), church, or public hospital. The rules involving proximity to private schools are a bit different (and can be extended to 1,000' in some cases).

As JBB noted, this is city code (Chapter 4 Section 4 for Fort Worth). However, there is an underlying state code (§109.33) that enables cities to enact such a code. The specifics (distance, how measured, ...) of Fort Worth's code seem to match those specified in the state code.

As John noted, the measurement is to be made "along the property lines of the street fronts and from front door to front door, and in direct line across intersections" when measuring the distance to a church or public hospital (with schools, you get to measure some vertical if your establishment is above the 5th floor of your building). Yes, this is arbitrary; but any method picked would have been arbitrary (as would have the distance). It would be interesting to know how this method was selected, though. Is it (or was it at one time) the easiest to measure unequivocally? Who knows.

My understanding is that the law was not intended to be some sort of back-handed Blue-law era prohibition to satisfy the religious lobby. It was an attempt to prevent a Hell's Half-acre from developing around a school, church, or public hospital. I'm not sure where these got started, but other states do have them (the distance varies).

The law cannot be written in such a way that the church has a say in whether it is enforced for a particular case. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that such a provision would violate the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. See Larkin vs. Grendel's Den [459 U.S. 116 (1982)]. Both the opinion of the Court, delivered by Chief Justice Burger, and the dissenting opinion, offered by Justice Rehnquist, are a good read if you're into that sort of thing.

However, according to the code: "The city council may allow a variance to this section if it determines that the enforcement of the regulation in a particular instance is not in the best interests of the public, constitutes waste or inefficient use of land or other resources, creates an undue hardship on the applicant for a license or permit, does not serve its intended purpose, or is not effective or necessary, or that a previous permit was issued for the premises in error and enforcement of the regulation would be inequitable, or for any other reason the city council determines, after consideration of the health, safety and welfare of the public and the equities of the situation, that the variance is in the best interest of the community."

#8 John T Roberts

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 06:57 PM

Donnie, you are always so good at researching things and providing the information to the forum. Good job.

#9 gdvanc

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 08:24 PM

Thanks for the kind words, John. I do like to try to throw in a fact or two if it might add to the discussion. I think you're the only one that reads them, though. ;-)

#10 John T Roberts

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 09:41 PM

I read every post on this forum. I don't respond to them all, but I do read every one.

Donnie, I always appreciate your attention to the research. Usually, I'm short of time and if I go dig up something, then I don't have time to post it.

#11 AdamB

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 01:08 PM

I have another question...

If I decide to develop my land into a mixed use development and I build several buildings that will house restaurants, bars, specialty retail shops and I feel like leasing one of the buildings on my property to a Church. Can I do that if the bar(s) on my property are close to the building that the Church is renting?

Can a Church be built close to an existing bar without it affecting the bar or the Church?

#12 gdvanc

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 02:17 PM

Can a Church be built close to an existing bar without it affecting the bar or the Church?

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Yes.

According to FW city code, if the premises meets the distance requirements when the original license or permit is issued, it "shall be deemed to satisfy the distance requirements for all subsequent renewals of the license or permit" - at least in regards to churches, hospitals, and public schools.

The rules regarding private schools are a bit different. Basically, there are exceptions to the required distances from private schools. For instance, if less than 50% of the establishment's revenues is derived from alcohol sales, then you can still get the initial permit even if the location is less than 300' away. Subsequent renewals require that you still meet the exception.

Keep in mind that I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL), so if you actually decide to do this I recommend checking with an expert.

#13 AdamB

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 10:18 PM

Just trying to run through some possible ideas as of now.

#14 safly

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 07:08 PM

I believe the law stipulates that the front entry way to an alcohol/liquor sales venue may not face in direction towards a place of worship. Distance is measured from front door entry way to front door entry way. Mikado and such may have been grandfathered due to the original landlords owership info. I have a link somewhere that supports it. I have ran into these issues with a company called REATA propt. mgmt., from SA trying to persuade an awesome SA restaurant to anchor their location owned by Lincoln Propt. at the corners of 7th/5th and Henderson, the old GoodYear store. It's current front door set-up for some reason faces that monstrous 1st Methodist. Nice looking church by the BTW. I asked but hey're not sure if I could swing it with the current set-up.
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#15 lobster

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 07:32 PM

Mikado and such may have been grandfathered due to the original landlords owership info.

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..Nope, the church was there waaay before Mikado came along (.. by about 100 years, mind you) :o .. it is that very reason Mikado's (formerly Pangaea) entry was "rerouted" to 5th street (this was done in '96), making customers walk down that pointless hallway. Otherwise they'd crack those dashing double doors open on the Throck side.

#16 safly

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 07:32 PM

Here we go. :o



Sec. 109.33. SALES NEAR SCHOOL, CHURCH, OR HOSPITAL. (a) The commissioners court of a county may enact regulations applicable in areas in the county outside an incorporated city or town, and the governing board of an in¬corporated city or town may enact regulations applicable in the city or town, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages by a dealer whose place of business is within:
(1) 300 feet of a church, public or private school, or public hospital;
(2) 1,000 feet of a public school, if the commissioners court or the governing body receives a request from the board of trustees of a school district under Section 38.007, Education Code; or

NOTE: Section 38.007, Education Code. Alcohol-free School Zones reads as follows:
(a) The board of trustees of a school district shall prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages at a school-related or school-sanctioned activity on or off school property.
(B) The board of trustees of a school district shall attempt to provide a safe alcohol-free environment to students coming to or going from school. The board of trustees may cooperate with local law enforcement officials and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in attempting to provide this environment and in enforcing Sections 101.75, 109.33, and 109.59, Alcoholic Beverage Code. Additionally, the board, if a majority of the area of a district is located in a municipality of a population of 900,000 or more, may petition the commissioners court of the county in which the district is located or the governing board of an incorporated city or town in which the district is located to adopt a 1,000-foot zone under Section 109.33, Alcoholic Beverage Code.

(3) 1,000 feet of a private school if the commissioners court or the governing body receives a request from the governing body of the private school.
(B) The measurement of the distance between the place of business where alcoholic beverages are sold and the church or public hospital shall be along the property lines of the street fronts and from front door to front door, and in direct line across intersections. The measurement of the distance between the place of business where alcoholic beverages are sold and the public or private school shall be:
(1) in a direct line from the property line of the public or private school to the property line of the place of business, and in a direct line across intersections; or
(2) if the permit or license holder is located on or above the fifth story of a multistory building, in a direct line from the property line of the public or private school to the property line of the place of business, in a direct line across intersections, and vertically up the building at the property line to the base of the floor on which the permit or license holder is located.
© Every applicant for an original alcoholic beverage license or permit for a location with a door by which the public may enter the place of business of the ap¬plicant that is within 1,000 feet of the nearest property line of a public or private school, measured along street lines and directly across intersections, must give written notice of the application to officials of the public or private school before filing the applica¬tion with the commission. A copy of the notice must be submitted to the commis¬sion with the application. This subsection does not apply to a permit or license covering a premise where minors are prohibited from entering the premises under Section 109.53.
(d) As to any dealer who held a license or permit on September 1, 1983, in a location where a regulation under this section was in effect on that date, for pur¬poses of Subsection (a), but not Subsection ©, of this section, the measurement of the distance between the place of business of the dealer and a public or private school shall be along the property lines of the street fronts and from front door to front door, and in direct line across intersections.
(e) The commissioners court of a county or the governing board of a city or town that has enacted a regulation under Subsection (a) of this section may also al¬low variances to the regulation if the commissioners court or governing body deter¬mines that enforcement of the regulation in a particular instance is not in the best interest of the public, constitutes waste or inefficient use of land or other resources, creates an undue hardship on an applicant for a license or permit, does not serve its intended purpose, is not effective or necessary, or for any other reason the court or governing board, after consideration of the health, safety, and welfare of the public and the equities of the situation, determines is in the best interest of the com¬munity.
(f) Subsections (a)(2) and (3) do not apply to the holder of:
(1) a retail on-premises consumption permit or license if less than 50 percent of the gross receipts for the premises is from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages;
(2) a retail off-premises consumption permit or license if less than 50 percent of the gross receipts for the premises, excluding the sale of items subject to the motor fuels tax, is from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages; or
(3) a wholesaler's, distributor's, brewer's, distiller's and rectifier's, winery, wine bottler's or manufacturer's permit or license, or any other license or permit held by a wholesaler or manufacturer as those words are ordinarily used and understood in Chapter 102.
(g) Subsection (a)(3) does not apply to the holder of:
(1) a license or permit issued under Chapter 27, 31, or 72 who is operating on the premises of a private school; or
(2) a license or permit covering a premise where minors are prohibited from entering under Section 109.53 and that is located within 1,000 feet of a private school.
(h) Subsection (a)(1) does not apply to the holder of:
(1) a license or permit who also holds a food and beverage certificate covering a premise that is located within 300 feet of a private school; or
(2) a license or permit covering a premise where minors are prohibited from entering under Section 109.53 and that is located within 300 feet of a private school.
(i) In this section, “private school” means a private school, including a parochial school, that:
(1) offers a course of instruction for students in one or more grades from kindergarten through grade 12; and
(2) has more than 100 students enrolled and attending courses at a single location.
Sec. 109.331. SALES NEAR DAY-CARE CENTER OR CHILD-CARE FACILITY. (a) This section applies only to a permit or license holder under Chapter 25, 28, 32, 69, or 74 who does not hold a food and beverage certificate.
(B) Except as provided by this subsection, the provisions of Section 109.33 relating to a public school also apply to a day-care center and a child-care facility as those terms are defined by Section 42.002, Human Resources Code. Sections 109.33(a)(2) and © do not apply to a day-care center or child-care facility.
© This section does not apply to a permit or license holder who sells alcoholic beverages if:
(1) the permit or license holder and the day-care center or child-care facility are located on different stories of a multistory building; or
(2) the permit or license holder and the day-care center or child-care facility are located in separate buildings and either the permit or license holder or the day-care center or child-care facility is located on the second story or higher of a multistory building.
(d) This section does not apply to a foster group home, foster family home, family home, agency group home, or agency home as those terms are defined by Section 42.002, Human Resources Code.
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#17 safly

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 07:54 PM

Mikado and such may have been grandfathered due to the original landlords owership info.

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..Nope, the church was there waaay before Mikado came along (.. by about 100 years, mind you) :o .. it is that very reason Mikado's (formerly Pangaea) entry was "rerouted" to 5th street (this was done in '96), making customers walk down that pointless hallway. Otherwise they'd crack those dashing double doors open on the Throck side.

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But what is even more important is when the law was enacted. The OWNER of the land, not Mikado or Pangaea, may have grandfathered issuance to this provision. Meaning that the landowner may have owned/sublet a retail/rest/comm. business affiliated with alcohol long before the law, of course not before the church. I believe the county or state TABC officials could grant the permit unders such a clause to continued alcohol related businesses therafter. They may have been issued to different CO permits along the way. TABC law goes way back, I am not sure when this (provision) was enacted.

The whole front door thing is expressed in the law's sub sections. I had this problem with grandfathering w/ a CO permit from the old Terry's Grill on Houston ST., the current owner who has owned it since the 50's and from his dad in the 80's, I wanna say? Had code compl. issues, which would have put me in $30K + in debt if I wanted to put an authentic Mexican Restaurant there, before I was to be issued a CO permit from CoFW. The owner (Brown)was exempt himself from all the other CO restricitons and improvements that new businesses in the city had to abide by, he was grandfathered in before Code was isssued here. He kept selling his daddy's old homecookin recipes (yummmy) up til Dec. 2003, when a Texadelphia took on a lease of the site. I believe his corp. franchise helped him build to code within the structure. Now if the new tennant were to keep it Terry's Grill, which Mr. Brown would never allow to just anybody, then that tennant would not have to abide by the city or county newly enacted/up to date CO laws, he would be grandfathered.
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