Houston eases sale of alcohol near churches and hospitals

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HOUSTON, TX – Here’s a new rule on booze that is already creating a lot of buzz. Houston City Council voted to allow alcohol sales near churches and hospitals. That means goodbye to the “300-feet-away” tradition.

Why? To bring large grocery stores to low income areas.

“I have to get on a bus to go to a grocery store,” said Ramon Bernal, a Southeast Houston resident.

“Which is over two and a half miles away,” added Cynthia Spooner, a neighbor.

Restrictions still apply to schools, though. With this measure, the City of Houston is trying to put an end to what they call “food deserts”, those neighborhoods without easy access to fresh food. We’re talking about an estimated of 440,000 residents affected.

“In the under-served areas there’s a proliferation of Churches and schools,” explained Stephen C. Costello, Houston City Council, At-large, Position 1. “So as you map out all of these alcohol-free-zone areas it limits the places where we can get grocery stores in.”

But some folks have some concerns about these changes.

“A lot of neighborhoods in Houston do suffer from being food deserts,” admitted Spooner, “but at the same time I think that there needs to be a happy medium where we don’t encroach on people’s rights.”

“We defined what the grocery store would be,” said Costello about the new resolution. “We limited the amount of sales in gross revenue. We limited the sale of alcohol to beer and wine, and no consumption on premises.”

Perhaps this new ordinance helps revitalize these neighborhoods and improve the quality of food we eat. So raise your glass and let’s toast to that, before the debate resumes.