Petition could force vote on Port Lavaca late-night drinking

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

July 10, 2013 at 2:10 a.m.
Updated July 11, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.

The addition of an Applebee's restaurant in Port Lavaca likely hinges on a citywide special election.

On Wednesday, Port Lavaca City Secretary Mandy Grant unofficially certified the 200 signatures needed to repeal an ordinance that extended the hours for sale of alcohol to 2 a.m. for the sake of the new business.

The ordinance went into effect in April, and Pastor Kevin LeVrier, with Freedom House Assembly of God, along with a 10-person committee, went person to person to obtain signatures.

LeVrier submitted 230 signatures, but 30 signatures were disqualified because some were repeats, and others were not registered voters in the city of Port Lavaca, Grant said.

If the ordinance is not repealed Aug. 12, it will be suspended until a special citywide election Nov. 5, which is how LeVrier believes the decision will play out.

"City Council could choose to repeal the ordinance, but it sounds like that is not being treated as an option," he said. "They will automatically send it to a ballot vote."

Holding a Nov. 5 special election will require the city to hire personnel to the tune of $8,000 to $10,000, said Bob Turner, city manager for Port Lavaca.

Applebee's purchased land at the intersection of state Highway 35 and Virginia Street before the ordinance had even been discussed by council members, LeVrier said, and that was the problem.

LeVrier decided to take it to the people.

"Some were indifferent and didn't want to get involved, but no one was angry," he said. "Some were even for the ordinance but signed the petition because they didn't like the way it was handled."

This was not the first time the Port Lavaca City Council discussed late-night drinking.

In 1978, the council adopted extended hours for sale of alcohol only to have them repealed in 1982. The extended hours were adopted again June 24, 1984. Less than a month later, the council received a petition with 932 certified signatures that demanded the ordinance be submitted to a vote. In that case, the council counted 494 votes for and 1,045 votes against continuing the sale of late-night alcohol; therefore, the ordinance was repealed.

The signatures on the petition will be certified before City Council on Aug. 12, at which time a decision will be made to repeal the ordinance or send it to a citywide vote.



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