2 cities to ease alcohol rules; Voters in Frisco, Corinth OK measures; Fairview doesn’t

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 33A

Voters in two fast-growing cities north of Dallas decided to loosen restrictions on alcohol sales Saturday, while a town slightly farther from the area’s suburban growth rejected a similar proposition.

Such measures have become increasingly common in area suburbs as newcomers push to change alcohol restrictions, which can vary from town to town or block to block.

In 1990, the three communities – Frisco and Corinth, which approved their ballot measures, and Fairview, which did not – were home to only 11,639 people among them. Since then, the influx of new residents has driven that total to more than 58,000. The North Central Texas Council of Governments projects the population will increase to 158,950 by 2025.

Frisco, the second-fastest-growing city of its size in the United States, approved two ballot issues. The first, which would allow the purchase of beer and wine to go, passed easily. The second, which would allow restaurants to sell liquor by the drink without requiring private club memberships, also passed.

“We knew the majority of people in Frisco wanted this,” said Janet McBride, treasurer of the Frisco Association of Concerned Taxpayers. “As we grow, more and more people have been asking about it.”

“People have been led to believe that there will be a lot of money coming into Frisco if this passes” because of increased business activity, said Andy Modawell, president of the Frisco Ministerial Alliance. “They’re not looking at the crime and increased costs that come with alcohol.”

Until the Legislature changed the law last session, Frisco had been unable to vote to loosen alcohol restrictions because its boundaries extend into two counties.

In Corinth, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure that will allow beer and wine sales in stores.

“We expected to win,” said Ben Pinnell, a developer who organized the campaign for the ballot measure. “We didn’t expect a total landslide.”

Proponents such as Mr. Pinnell had argued that making the city “damp” would help attract businesses, such as a Tom Thumb grocery, and help businesses remain competitive.

For example, a Corinth Albertson’s is not allowed to sell beer or wine, while a Wal-Mart across the street from it is, because it lies within the boundaries of Hickory Creek.

Fairview, the smallest of the three communities, has grown along with the boom in Collin County, transforming from a farm town (population 175 in 1960) to a bedroom community for commuters to Plano or McKinney. But its growth has been slower than Frisco’s or Corinth’s, and town council member Scott Evans said residents aren’t interested in making the dry-to-wet shift that many growing
suburban communities have.

The proposition on Saturday’s ballot would have allowed packaged beer, wine and liquor sales. It was defeated 3-to-1.

“There’s a sentiment of the town that the commercial district shouldn’t have this sort of activity,” he said. “We have a vision for that area, and it’s not liquor stores.”

Greg Smith, the Fairview resident who backed the proposition, said voters overreacted to opposition from the town’s elected officials, most of whom opposed the measure.

“If people sit back and realize that there isn’t much to this issue, it would have turned out better,” he said.

The high voter interest shows the level of opposition to the issue, Mr. Evans said. The town has only about 2,900 residents, but more than 1,200 voted.

“That’s an amazing turnout for a town our size,” he said.