New rules for downtown liquor sales?

HARLINGEN — Last call in the city’s downtown district will be midnight if the City Commission approves.

The Downtown Improvement District board yesterday approved a resolution asking the city to codify a measure which would keep bars from staying open until 2 a.m. in the district.

A single nightclub, The Tejana Bar on West Van Buren Avenue, is the only one that stays open until 2 a.m. now. Board members said that establishment could continue to do so even if the measure is approved, and if the new regulation passes, it would only apply to new after-hours permit applications.

All other nightclubs or bars in the district currently close before or at midnight.

Downtown board members say they are asking the City Commission to codify the midnight closing rule because more and more people are establishing residences in the area and this would forestall future noise complaints.

“The downtown is obviously moving in a residential direction,” board member Bill DeBrooke said. “We’re going to have quite a few residents and there are going to be more over the next few years.”

Also, board members noted, current regulations on the closing time of businesses which sell alcohol are unclear.

The board referred to what is known as the Downtown District Overlay, which is a section of the city code which creates rules and regulations for the special downtown district.

Section 15, rule 7D of the overlay states, “Security personnel must be provided at all bar/lounge establishments during peak hours of operations (Thursday-Saturday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.)”

Board members said the regulation implies a legal right to serve alcohol until 2 a.m., although they also say the wording isn’t clear and they want it revised.

It is the only reference in the downtown overlay to the hours a bar can serve alcohol.