BZA denies Tiger Mart alcohol variance
Jacksboro’s Board of Zoning Adjustments met again Wednesday to consider a variance request to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages at Tiger Mart. About 35 community members attended to show their support or opposition for granting the request.
The business would require a variance because of Jacksboro’s ordinance that prohibits the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a school or day care, property line to property line. Tiger Mart, located at 753 W. Belknap, sits across W. Belknap Street from Jacksboro Middle School and the Jacksboro ISD administration building which also houses the district’s day care. The distance is 63 feet, property line to property line.
Members of the BZA met Sept. 20 concerning the matter, but tabled the issue to investigate whether or not the city could place conditions on granting the variance, namely, only allowing the sale of alcohol outside of school hours.
The meeting opened with City Manager Mike Smith outlining his findings which were that according to state law, the city would only be allowed to regulate, or place conditions, on the sale of beer. He also outlined the three similar variances the board had granted previously for Allsups, Mr. Cut Rate and most recently, J.R.’s Chophouse. Members of the board stated they allowed those variances because there was no line of sight between the daycares and the businesses requesting and they were not on the same street. Also, the day cares affected did not oppose the variance.
That is not the case with Jacksboro ISD.
All seven school board trustees attended the meeting in opposition of the variance. Trustee Ken Swan spoke first during the public hearing and gave a statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that 21 percent of people that drink are drinking and driving.
“So the people that will drive to your store to buy alcohol, 21 percent of them are already drinking — one out of five,” Swan said. “We have hundreds of kids a day crossing the street 50 feet from the driving entrance access to your store.”
He added that students cross the street not just going to and from school, but at night after sports activities and even on weekends.
“We have a responsibility as adults to use our heads and common sense when it comes to these controversial matters to keep our children and infants as safe as we possibly can,” Swan said. “We also have rules that are already in place that address these matters. Frankly, for the life of me, I don’t understand why we’re even considering alcohol sales in this area. This is insane.”
JISD Board President Brent Hackley spoke during the hearing and said there are students crossing the street at all hours of the day and night from 7 a.m. to 9 or 10 o’clock at night.
“I’m not opposed to alcohol sales in the community, but I don’t feel this is the place for it,” Hackley said.
Dawa Tamang, a representative for Tiger Mart, said he understands the concerns, but other stores received variances to sell alcohol.
“We have best interests for the people and the community. We do not want a negative impact on the school or the community,” Tamang said. “... All we’re asking at this point is to be fair. We are okay not to sell alcohol, but everybody else is selling alcohol.”
He finished his comments saying if he cannot compete, it could cause the store to go out of business.
Raj Shrestha, with Tiger Mart, addressed the board saying many of those on the west side of town drinking and driving are going to use the same street to get to Allsups.
Greg Sanders said children’s safety is paramount to everything else when he addressed the board.
“No amount of money is worth one child,” he said.
After hearing from five other community members in opposition and two in favor, the board voted to deny the request.