It recently became a little easier to open a pawn shop or liquor store in Sherman.
The Sherman City Council recently approved a pair of ordinances that would remove some of the hurdles standing in front of business owners looking to operate pawn shops or liquor stores within the city limits by removing the specific use permit requirement from those types of establishments, effectively allowing them to open in commercial and retail sales categories, respectively.
Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said the city learned its ordinance was outdated last month when lawyer E. Allen Taylor Jr. provided some civic training to the city officials on matters related to public meetings. During that meeting, Taylor informed the council and the city staff present some of Sherman’s codes needed to be brought into compliance with state law.
“He (Taylor) did not believe our current statute as written was in compliance with state law,” Strauch said. “Cities across the state want to more heavily regulate liquor stores and pawn shops but the state has said you have to treat them like any other business when it comes to zoning.”
Strauch said the new ordinances will make it slightly easier to open either of those types of businesses as it has removed the need to go before the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission to get a specific use permit. He said the application for that process starts with a $300 fee.
Council member Shawn Teamann said the specific use permit requirement was implemented in 2016 when city voters elected to lift all alcohol sales restrictions in Sherman. Strauch explained pawn shops will be permitted in areas zoned as commercial districts, while liquor stores will be allowed to open — after meeting Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission guidelines — in any retail business district.
“There is a Texas law that says pawn shops and liquors stores are protected under state law,” Teamann said. “There are already restrictions in state law, such as distance from school and churches.”
Before Sherman voters approved liquor sales, Teamann said a business had to go through the process of asking for an exception.
Strauch said there have been 12 specific use permits issued since the voters approved the sale of liquor and the city’s ordinance was changed. After consulting the Sherman City Attorney Brandon Shelby, Teamann said Sherman would be willing to look at the possibility of giving refunds to establishments that have already been granted specific use permits.
The Sherman P&Z Commission made the recommendation to update the ordinances last month when it submitted several changes to the city’s zoning ordinances. At the same meeting the zoning ordinances relating to pawn shops and liquor stores were updated, Sherman approved a major overhaul to its zoning platform to allow for large-scale development projects to make it easier to accommodate mixed-used projects the city refers to as “planned developments.”
Those ordinances were designed to attract large-scale developments featuring a mixture of retail and residential spaces. One of the aspects of that ordinance was to allow Sherman officials to negotiate deals with these large-scale developers without the need to issue specific use permits and exceptions along the way, allowing the city to essentially look at the planned development as a single project instead of smaller, individual zones.
Denison Communications Director Sunny Mackey said Denison does not require any conditional use permits for pawn shops or establishments selling alcoholic beverages within city limits. She explained pawn shops are permitted in business park, commercial, light industrial and heavy industrial zoned districts. She added businesses selling alcoholic drinks are allowed in neighborhood services, local retail, community retail, regional retail, commercial and central area zoning districts.
Herald Democrat reporter Michael Hutchins contributed to this article.