BANGS— More than a month since Bangs voters approved off-premises beer and wine sales, but a group of citizens are fighting to keep booze away from area schools.
With Food Plaza and Allsups receiving waivers to sell alcohol, despite owning businesses bordering Bangs ISD property, Bangs Superintendent Tony Truelove said a group of citizens would submit an official protest to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to reject two proposals for licenses.
“Our reservations are not with the sale of alcohol specifically,” Truelove said. “It’s the sale of alcohol by establishments that border our property. They are right here. You can look at our parking lot, and the parking lot of one of the businesses and one could say ‘Whose parking lot is that, theirs or ours?’ It’s the proximately to small children that worries me.”
Another concern is citizens not knowing they are committing a crime by accidentally bringing alcoholic beverages onto school property. Food Plaza is located adjacent to the Bangs High School football stadium. Truelove’s primary concern is local or visiting fans from another school tailgating outside of the stadium with alcoholic beverages or going to their vehicles for a drink at halftime.
“It’s also the proximity to our football stadium,” Truelove said. “… I don’t want for it to be so convenient people could ice down their alcohol before the game, come out during halftime, drink a little bit and go back in. In no way are we saying these things haven’t happened in the past somehow. We’re just saying it’s more convenient for these things to happen.“
Truelove said the school district cannot protest the applications to TABC itself and, instead, must rely on parents, residents and other local entities to to voice their concerns. On the BISD website, the school district expressed some of its concerns and listed the cellphone number and email address of Bangs Mayor Eric Bishop, as well as members of the Bangs City Council. Bishop said he has heard their concerns, but said the people of Bangs spoke during last May’s election with approval passing 105 to 45.
“I’m concerned about the children too, but once this came into place my job is to quarterback it through and not say what is right and what is wrong,” he said. “There is no undoing what the voters said … This is something I have heard people talk about for the last 10 years and I’m sure people have been talking about it for the last 50. They did it. It was successful and along the way people that were opposed to it had their chance to speak and 45 or so voted against it. I can’t speak for TABC or members of the city council as to what decisions they might make in the future, but at this point the preparation needs to be there is going to be beer and wine at Allsups and Food Plaza.”
Bishop believes much of the uproar comes from the misconception there is a state law giving a buffer zone between businesses that sell alcohol and schools, churches and residential neighborhoods. He said there is no such stipulation and the alleged 300 foot buffer zone is a discretionary procedure for local municipalities. Due to the geographical size of Bangs, and its lack of zoning laws, virtually the entire city could be considered a residential area or fall within 300 feet of a school, church or home. Bishop said he looks forward to further collaboration with citizens, the school district and area businesses regarding working on policies and procedures to keep children safe in the infancy of legalized beer and wine sales, but added the difficulty of such conversations is much of it involves a scope much larger than Bangs.
“None of the harsh criticism I have been exposed to so far has been citizens of Bangs,” he said. “I understand our school district serves a greater area, and thank goodness for it. If it were up to just the city of Bangs we would have a much smaller school and much fewer services available to our children. It’s sometimes difficult when people are only seeing it from the safety of our children. It is difficult to have that conversation.”