Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Editorial: City should okay request by Allsup’s

The Clarendon City Council should approve a variance request for Allsup’s Convenience Stores after it holds a public hearing next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The company, which has been in business here for more than 40 years, is in contract to buy a large tract of land on US 287 and says it plans to invest $2.6 million to develop a larger nicer store.

Roger Estlack, Editor

So what’s the problem with that? Allsup’s sells beer and wine, and the new store location is right across the street from the Clarendon public schools, specifically the backside of Bronco Stadium. Unfortunately, city ordinance prohibits establishments from selling alcohol within 300 feet of a church or a school. A business can ask for a variance on this issue, and Allsup’s has done just that.

The request from Allsup’s has led to naysaying and fearmongering from Clarendon’s usual Prophet of Doom, who once predicted that we would have drunken bums sleeping in Prospect Park and a host of other maladies if we legalized the sale of alcohol in this town. Now, we’re told that Allsup’s plans will attract transients, bums, and whores.

The biggest concern the Prophet and others say they have is safety. The proposed site for the new store is about a block and half west of its current location at US 287 and Koogle Street. This site is supposedly too dangerous because speeding traffic coming over the hill will cause accidents with vehicles pulling in and out of the new store.

It would be a crying shame if we had to slow traffic in this town. TxDOT and law enforcement certainly have it in their power to do that… if it really is a concern. But where was all this worry when Best Western, Sonic, Dollar General, and Pizza Hut were built across the highway from this site?

In all honesty though, safety would not even be on anybody’s radar if it wasn’t for the alcohol issue. If someone wanted to build a hotel or a McDonald’s on that property, everything would be just hunky-dory. But propose something – anything – that wants to sell beer, and some people will just lose their freaking minds.

The next supposed problem is that this new store will somehow send “mixed messages” to the children at Clarendon ISD, which tries to promote a strong anti-drug/anti-alcohol theme. The school board even approved a resolution opposed to the city granting Allsup’s variance request.

The school board might want to keep in mind that a $2.6 million improvement will generate a significant amount of tax revenue for the school. And here’s a news flash for the school and the naysayers… the school kids go to Allsup’s every day already. So what difference will it really make? None.

People concerned about the new Allsup’s location have also been quick to suggest other more desirable, in their opinions, locations for the store. The Prophet himself has even suggested one location that is outside the city limits and would bring no sales or property tax revenue to the city, but it is just about as far away from the children as you can get. Ultimately, the location of a new Allsup’s store ought to be up to Allsup’s and whoever is selling the property. It’s a business decision. Likewise, what happens to Allsup’s current property is for that company to determine.

It’s important to point out that a majority of people in Clarendon want to see businesses grow and thrive here. Your editor firmly believes that most people want to welcome Allsup’s and appreciate the firm’s willingness to invest literally millions of dollars in this community.

The City Council must look at the big picture in this case. Allsup’s new store will mean more property taxes, more sales taxes, and more jobs. It will also further the image that positive things are happening in this community… just like in the case of the new Family Dollar, the Buckin’ Bean, the Whistle-Stop, and other developments. Many other communities our size don’t have these things going on.  It’s a sign of progress. That’s what this really means for Clarendon, and that’s why the variance should be approved – because business expansion is good for our city.

Beyond this instance, the council also needs to consider that highway frontage in this town is limited. The distance requirements on establishments selling alcohol are potentially limiting on development and therefore should be abolished altogether. Alcohol sales should be allowed anywhere along the 287 corridor and in the central business district. There shouldn’t have to be a fight every time someone wants to put in a business that sells beer or wine.

Clarendon must be open and welcoming to development. The fate of Allsup’s request will determine the message that we send to other potential businesses.

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