WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) – City council denied a request to allow the Wichita Falls Farmers Market Association to sell alcohol. It’s a decision that shocked the association.
“For the association, I would just like to express our surprise at the 6-1 vote and our disappointment,” Carol Castro, secretary of the Wichita Falls Farmers Market Association, said. “We came here expecting it was going to get approved because we had the overwhelming support of Onelife and also the neighboring associated Baptist church.”
The Farmers Market Association was hoping to receive approval from the city council to allow their vendors to sell alcohol, but the motion did not pass after six councilors voted no and one chose to abstain.
“Horseshoe Bend Cellars is very disappointed in the result of the veto of the city ordinance for alcohol within 300 feet of a church,” Gabriele Poenitzsch, General Manager at Horseshoe Bend Cellars Vineyard and Winery, said.
“I think everyone had different feelings about the reasoning behind that,” Stephen Stanellana, Mayor of Wichita Falls, said. “Some people were due to the church affect, some people didn’t think it qualified with the TABC variance.”
Texas state law prohibits the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a school, church or hospital, but the association had support from the surrounding churches.
“Pastor Ron was very much in favor of us being able to sell during the farmers market events and hours to have the wineries there,” Castro said. “There were also letters presented to the council from the neighboring Baptist church in support in getting the variance of this ordinance passed.”
Association members were confused and upset with the decision. They said council has approved other ordinances similar to this one, but council members don’t believe you can make the comparison.
“Two or three times a week selling of a product rather than a one time a year of a consumption of a product, I think some of the council members basically put those as an apple to oranges situation,” Santellana said. “Everything had to meet a certain criteria in their mind and a certain criteria with the TABC and they didn’t see it as one of those needs like to waive that. It wouldn’t be an undue hardship on that church.”
Representatives with Horseshoe Bend Cellars said this decision will have a negative impact on local businesses.
“The reason why we asked city council to put it on the agenda is because it would help small businesses, especially at the farmers market, since we grow everything on sight as well as other wineries in the area,” Poenitzsch said. “Especially for all the other vendors when we bring back the wine festival again. It was a very popular event at the farmers market and we were trying to do that again.”
Santellana said they needed to hear more information from all parties involved to feel comfortable in approving it. He said he is open to having this as an agenda item in the future.
For the Farmers Market Association, they had a contingency plan in place in case this didn’t get approved and said they will be looking to exercise that option soon.
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