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Dallas Stays Wet While Court Fight Continues

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(photo credit: Getty Images/AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE )

(photo credit: Getty Images/AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE )

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Businesses in parts of Dallas that used to be ‘dry’ can still apply for permits to sell beer and wine.

A visiting judge Tuesday refused to stop the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission from issuing those permits, while a group opposed to beer and wine sales fights last November’s election in court.

Kroger’s Gary Huddleston led the pro wet/dry forces, called ‘Keep the Dollars in Dallas.’ Kroger has successfully gotten licenses for all its stores in formerly wet areas, but says other smaller businesses in those areas deserve licenses as well.

“We think the voters have spoken and loudly about there wanting to be beer and wine in supermarkets and convenience stores.”

Leland De La Garza represents liquor stores and other businesses that unsuccessfully fought the November wet-dry election. Since then about a dozen stores have received licenses in formerly wet areas. De la Garza argues Dallas didn’t correctly scrutinize the signatures authorizing the election, even bringing in city secretary Debra Watkins to try to prove the point. But visiting Judge Laurine Blake ruled she doesn’t have the legal authority to intervene.

“We have to live with the statutes; they say what they say. the judge interpreted it in a way we respectfully disagree, but that’s her ruling,” says De La Garza, who hopes to ultimately have the election set aside, but for now cannot stop the permit process.  “It’s disappointing because the result will be that permits will issue, and if the election is voided those permits should never have been issued. And then the permits are subject to being canceled; but that’s all in the future.”

The TABC says that even if the group challenging the results eventually wins in court, it will not revoke the permits that have already been issued.

There will be another pretrial hearing on liquor sales January 31, but the suit against last year’s vote likely won’t be heard until the summer.

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