An amendment to city policy aims to assist restaurants and encourage more businesses by allowing downtown restaurants located within 300 feet of a church to begin serving alcoholic beverages.
City Council unanimously approved the amendment to the Code of Ordinances at its June 26, 2018 meeting. The change allows restaurants located in the original Downtown Overlay District, which was established in 1998 and adopted as part of the city’s master plan in 2009, to serve alcoholic beverages without seeking individual variances from the City Council.
“If we’re going to continue the growth of downtown and be able to get the businesses to come in and restore those buildings we need to get the restaurants in,” Mayor Scott Cain said. “This is an area we’ve been focused on growing and instead of doing it piecemeal it makes more sense to take that district and really focus on our vision as a council.”
The policy was originally established in 2009 and prohibited Cleburne businesses from selling alcoholic beverages if they are located within 300 feet of a church, public hospital, or public or private school. Cleburne businesses may request a variance from the Council, but this change aims to make it easier for downtown restaurants to achieve their vision by providing a blanket variance for an area the City Council has deemed vital for economic development.
The change was first brought to the Council’s attention by a group of local business owners who asked city leaders to review the regulation. There are several churches in or near the downtown district.
“I’m asking you if you’ll protect the investments of the city and all these individuals by helping the city to grow downtown and asking you to give some consideration to allow a special district overlay for downtown restaurants to serve alcohol in downtown Cleburne,” business owner Chuck Bailey asked the City Council at the May 8 meeting.
This amendment only affects businesses in the downtown area, which stretches from just past Buffalo Creek and just past Border Street and a portion just north of Brown Street and the southern end at Shaffer Street. Businesses will still have to hold a TABC On-Premise license.
This change is in addition to other economic development policies that aim to spur development and growth in the downtown area such as the façade improvement and building rehabilitation matching incentives.