Former JMH, Mathews Motor Properties Generate Inquiries Into Alcohol License Variances

October 28, 2008

The West U. City Council has authorized administration to draft a specific procedure for applying for alcohol permit variances after the city has received informal inquires concerning the former JMH building and Mathews Motor Company property.

Both locations would require a council-authorized variance because they are within 300 feet of West U. Elementary. The inquiries included questions about on-premise and off-premise alcohol permits. An on-premise permit would allow for alcohol served to customers who would consume it at the location – off-premise would allow for the purchase of alcohol for consumption elsewhere.

The city center surrounding West U. Elementary is likely the only area in West U. that would require a variance process, as the only other commercial area that would come close to a school is on Bellaire Boulevard next to St. Mark’s.

The last variance the city granted was in 2003, when JMH ownership changed and the new owners were required to reapply for an off-premise permit. During that process, representatives of the Houston Independent School District and the West U. Police Department were included in the process, and according to city representatives, HISD was against the granting of the permit.

“They don’t have veto power, but they have the right to speak for or against,” said West U. City Attorney Alan Petrov.

City Manager Michael Ross suggested a process modeled after the current zoning variance process. The applicant would first be required to hold a neighborhood meeting, notifying residents within 300 feet of the property if their plans. All West U. residents would be able to attend.

The applicant would then take the minutes from that meeting to council, who would set up a public hearing on the request. A sign indicating the request for a variance would be placed on the property.

“It is nice to have something in place ahead of receiving an application so you can tell the applicant this is what we want to do concerning the application,” said Petrov. “It gives certainty to the applicant of what they need to do, and the city to what steps they need to follow.”

Ultimately, council would decide is the request is granted. If granted, the applicant would then have to apply with the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission for a license.

Ross will present council with a draft of the new procedure at a later council meeting.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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