HEWITT (July 23, 2009)-The Hewitt Committee for Economic Development has taken the first step required to seek a local option election to permit limited sales of alcohol in the city.
John Maddux, president of the Hewitt chamber and a member of the committe, told News 10 the group has successfully gathered more than 2000 signatures on petitions to ask county commissioners to call a local option election on the issue.
The petitions seek voter approval to allow sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption and to allow the sale of mixed drinks in restaurants who have beverage certificates.
A news release issued by the committee states it took only two weeks to gather the required signatures.
"The response from the community has been overwhelmingly supportive, and we feel this is a good step in the right direction for success in November," said Maddux.
The request is to be presented to the McLennan County Elections Office for review and if approved, the request will be sent to the commissioners court to be placed on the ballot.
The requests are specific and would not allow stand-alone bars, nightclubs or package stores.
Committee members say the issue is tax revenue: "We are losing valuable tax revenue every time someone drives just a mile and a half to Waco grocery retailers because they not only purchase their groceries but beer and wine, too," Maddux said.
"Since the State law changed in 2003 regarding local control of alcohol sales, over 200 cities in Texas, including communities like Waco, Woodway, Bellmead, Salado and Lorena have changed their laws to balance the playing field and keep tax money locally supporting their local businesses. Keeping people shopping in Hewitt, rather than going somewhere else, ultimately helps all of Hewitt," said Maddux.
There was no indication of when the issue might be presented for approval.