‘Keep Argyle Safe’ Announces Petition to Prevent Beer and Wine Sales Adjacent to Hilltop Elementary School

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'Keep Argyle Safe' announces petition to prevent beer and wine near school. Zoning change conflicts with master plan.

“If this new zoning change is adopted, Argyle will be setting a public policy precedent and effectively surrender the power to control where alcohol is sold relative to Hilltop Elementary and other locations where public safety is a concern."

A group of concerned Argyle parents and citizens have launched a petition to defeat a city rezoning proposal that would allow the construction of a Brookshire’s Grocery store across the street from Hilltop Elementary School. The zoning change was proposed to and approved by the planning and zoning commission January 7, with no public notice or discussion, except the standard zoning change notice to nearby property owners. The town council vote on the zoning change is scheduled for January 28. The citizen group formed Keep Argyle Safe, http://www.keepargylesafe.org, which hopes to promote robust discussion of the proposed changes and prevent the zoning change.

“We are very concerned about the abrupt and undiscussed change in the City of Argyle’s policy on separation between establishments where alcohol is sold and sensitive locations such as schools, churches and hospitals,” Bryan Livingston, co-founder of Keep Argyle Safe said in announcing the petition. “If this new zoning change is adopted, Argyle will be setting a public policy precedent and effectively surrender the power to control where alcohol is sold relative to Hilltop Elementary and other locations where public safety is a concern. We are in favor of a regional grocery store for Argyle, but not in the town green area.”

Keep Argyle Safe is also concerned about the additional traffic a grocery store will bring to two-lane streets near the school, where traffic congestion is already a challenge. Both the town green zoning ordinance, adopted in 2006, and the town’s master plan, adopted at considerable cost ($400,000) in 2009, position a town green in the community’s center, featuring mixed-use residential, office and specialty retail. The plan calls for larger retail development serving regional customers projects such as the grocery store to be located in the Interstate 35W corridor where roads are better able to handle the traffic.

“The additional traffic a Brookshire’s Grocery store would bring to the heart of Argyle and our elementary school will undermine the safe pedestrian environment of our community,” added Emily Valentino of Keep Argyle Safe. “The plan calls for our town center to be pedestrian-friendly. It is intended for local uses, not a regional grocery store. If this zoning change is approved, the town council will signal to developers that the comprehensive plan is meaningless. We hope to bring these issues to the attention of our fellow citizens and stop the zoning change.”

Keep Argyle Safe has also learned that town officials are negotiating steep tax abatements to Brookshire’s to bring the store to the town center site in Argyle. Recently opened Brookshire’s stores in Whitesboro and Pottsboro were given 85% tax abatements over 10 years. But Argyle Town Manager Charles West has disclosed the town is also offering sales tax abatements to Brookshire’s. The town council is justifying converting plans for the town center park into a parking lot and grocery store based on the need for commercial tax revenue, but is negotiating the needed tax revenue away. The results of these negotiations should be disclosed before the zoning change is voted upon.

“The changes our town leaders are proposing would significantly change the spirit and character of Argyle, and are not sound financial proposals for our community,” Jay Miranda, co-founder of Keep Argyle Safe, said. “We believe the vast majority of citizens of Argyle will not be in favor of the changes when they become aware of them. Keep Argyle Safe aims to bring about public discussion of these issues and let the town council know where we stand.”

The Keep Argyle Safe petition is located here, at http://www.keepargylesafe.org/sign.php.

For questions or more information visit http://www.keepargylesafe.org or email keepargylesafe(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Bryan Livingston

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