For Denison community and business leaders looking to revise the city’s alcohol laws, 1,304 was the magic number. Over the past two months, volunteers with the effort canvassed the city to garner enough signatures to ask Denison voters in November if the city should allow the sale of mixed beverages in local establishments.

For Denison community and business leaders looking to revise the city’s alcohol laws, 1,304 was the magic number. Over the past two months, volunteers with the effort canvassed the city to garner enough signatures to ask Denison voters in November if the city should allow the sale of mixed beverages in local establishments.


By the end of the day on Thursday, just one day before the effective deadline for the petition drive, leaders with the effort submitted their final paperwork, including an estimated 1,550 signatures of registered Denison voters. While the count still needs to be verified by the city, volunteers with the effort are celebrating their success.


"It was work; it was a lot of work, really, but we got through it and it feels good," Dean Spader,one of the organizers, said.


More than 140 volunteers helped canvass the city to collect signatures, Spader said. While many signatures were collected at events, such as Music on Main, the vast majority came from door-to-door efforts, he said. For the past 30 days, Spader and other volunteers spent two hours each night going door to door to promote the petition and collect signatures.


Spader said he has previous experience working in the food and hospitality industry, and has experience with the law Denison currently has in place for the sale of alcohol. While many view laws regarding alcohol sales as either "wet or dry", Spader said the issue is much more complex and is closer to a spectrum.


Under current law, on-premise and off-premise sale of beer and wine is allowed, while mixed drinks and liquor are not allowed for on-premise purchase and consumption under normal circumstances. In order to sell these beverages, a restaurant or other establishment may form what is called a "private club."


According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, a private club permit allows an establishment to "serve alcoholic beverages belonging to members of the club to members and their families." In order to purchase from one of these establishments, a customer must be a member of the club and scan their ID with every visit. In order to apply for club membership, an individual must provide information including name and address.


Under private club laws, an establishment must keep records of all members, which is usually accomplished through a third-party vendor. Additionally, beverages served at the establishment belong to the club and its members, and a separate bank account must be maintained to restock alcohol.


By updating the law to allow for the sale of mixed beverages, Denison Development Alliance Vice President William Myers said it would not only streamline the process for local businesses, but also encourage development throughout the city, including Gateway Village and downtown Denison. Myers estimates that the change away from private club laws could save some businesses $2,000 in fees and other costs each year.


Another advantage of updating the laws is that it will bring all of the city under the same regulation, Myers said. When the laws were last updated in 1983, they covered what was then the boundaries of the city, and as more land has been annexed by the city, they retained their previous designation. As such, some portions of the city, including Gateway Village and Preston Harbor, are currently dry.


While Myers said response to the petition was "overwhelmingly positive," leaders with the group say they plan to continue to promote the issue through the election. While 48 of the past 50 similar motions have passed when the issue was put before voters, Spader said success requires residents to get out and vote.


"Even with support, it takes action to be successful," Spader said.