Push to repeal Pearland liquor laws heating up

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PEARLAND, TX - Pearland is the fastest growing suburb near Houston, but before you let someone convince you to move there, you need to know something. If you like to get your drink on, it's probably not for you.

The city has this liquor law that says if you want to serve alcohol, you have to serve food. And you have to make at least 51% of your income from that food.

"We've had several businesses (including a wine bar and martini bar), who have had to close because they could not meet the legalities of this law," says Carol Artz-Bucek, the city's Chamber of Commerce president. So the Chamber is petitioning to get that changed.

"If it raises tax money, that could be a possible positive thing," says Ruth Leclere, long-time Pearland restaurant owner.

The Chamber's campaign, Pearland Citizens for Economic Freedom, is working to put the liquor restrictions to a vote. Seth Thompson is co-chair of that campaign, "When my wife and I want to go out, we go either to Sugar Land or we go into Midtown. So, it'd be nice to be able to do that, spend our tax dollars and keep them in Pearland."

But first they need 8,000 signatures, which may be tough. And then there are all the churches. "I don't expect the ministers in our community to support the effort. I think they have a responsibility to their parishioners because I know that there is a connotation for alcohol," says Artz-Bucek, "but we also know that people do drink alcohol. And I think if they're going to purchase it, they should be purchasing it right here at home."

Resident Diana Luckey agrees, "I think it's better for our economy to have alcohol available. I'm definitely for it."

Rickey Watlington, who moved to Pearland eight years ago is not so sure, "I'm for the money coming in and the revenue being here, but, you know, I'm thinking it's gonna bring a bad element in maybe."

"It's gonna expand Pearland, make more people wanna live here in Pearland, I think," says Colin Lynch, a Houstonian who visits the city regularly.

But Carlos Castro, a Pearland dad, wants no part of that, "I moved here because I want to be here with my family and the less alcohol, the less drinking and driving, and the harder it is for people to get to it, the safer I feel it will be."

"They can drive four miles and buy it in another county," says Linda Morgan, who works in Pearland but lives outside the city. "It's kind of silly as far as I'm concerned. If they want liquor, they're gonna get liquor."

"The tapestry of our community is changing, the diversity is changing," says Artz-Bucek, "and it's going to change the laws that are currently there."

Will the residents say "cheers" to that? We'll have to wait and see.

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