In an effort to attract more restaurants, the Killeen City Council will make it easier for them to sell alcohol.
Previously, restaurants coming to Killeen had to apply and get approval for RC-1 zoning before they could legally sell alcohol. Now, the city will waive the zoning requirement.
A majority of council members endorsed the change during a workshop meeting Tuesday to make the city more competitive with neighboring cities.
Ray Shanaa, the city’s director of planning, said requiring restaurants to take an extra step hurts Killeen.
“This puts us at a disadvantage when competing with the other cities around us, Harker Heights in particular, because they allow restaurants to serve alcohol by right as long as the zoning district allows,” he said.
Shanaa said over the past several years the council had 20 requests for RC-1 zoning; of those, 19 were approved and one was withdrawn by the applicant.
“It will really make a difference,” he said. “When restaurants are looking at Killeen and they see it’s an uncertain thing, then they just say, ‘We don’t want to mess with it.’”
Councilman Jonathan Okray, who opposed the change, said “ignorance is no excuse.”
Councilman Steve Harris also voted against the change.
The change will allow restaurants zoned B-3 or higher to serve alcohol by right, rather than having to request additional zoning.
Shanaa said the change will reduce approval time for restaurants and encourage more “fine dining” establishments to open in Killeen.
Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone said she thinks the change is “a wonderful idea.”