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Six Flags’ beer application sparks protest

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Protests of applications to sell beer at Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor in Arlington are being directed to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“Do we really want to send our youth groups — our church youth groups — to places where alcohol is served?” local Christian leader Linda Rosebury asked in an interview with KCBI-FM, the radio station of Criswell College in Dallas.

The sale of beer, Rosebury said, threatens the park’s image as a safe place for families.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Andrea Ahles wrote that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) had received 600 calls and a dozen letters as of Jan. 8, all protesting Six Flags’ Dec. 17 announcement to apply for liquor licenses. After a mandatory 60-day waiting period ends Feb. 17, TABC will review the application and protests to determine whether a public hearing will be held.

Six Flags officials claim the beer application is in response to customer requests for beer and pledged that such sales would be handled responsibly and would safeguard guest safety.

Noting the park’s pledge to offer quality guest services, John Bement, Six Flags in-park services senior vice president, told the Southern Baptist TEXAN, “For quite some time, many of our guests have requested beer as an option while dining or visiting the park. In fact, several of the parks in the Six Flags system already provide such amenities and have done so successfully and responsibly for many years.”

Bement added, “As with our other parks, we will have very strict guidelines in place for Six Flags Over Texas, along with extensive training to ensure the serving of beer is done in a controlled and responsible manner. We only intend to sell beer and have no present plans to offer mixed drinks or hard liquor like some of our other competitors such as Schlitterbaun.”

Letter writers have raised a variety of concerns, with one noting that TABC should conduct an alcohol impact study to determine the threat to public safety, while another urged the city of Arlington to join in the protest.

The TABC website at tabc.state.tx.us features information about protesting an application for a permit under the license section.

“Some grounds exist for refusal or denial that are subject to interpretation on the basis of the facts involved,” the TABC website states.

Sections of the pertinent code provide for protests based on facts which show that the manner in which the business is operated or the place the business is located could prove detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the public.

“These sections of the code generate the most numerous and complex cases,” according to the website, which goes on to outline the process for filing a sworn statement of protest.

Shelby Sharpe, an attorney with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, explained that any citizen desiring to protest the sale of alcoholic beverages at Six Flags Over Texas (2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX 76010) and Hurricane Harbor (1800 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, TX 76006) must file a protest with the TABC by Feb. 17, submitting a sworn statement identifying each applicant and requesting that the administrator refuse to approve the application for stated legal grounds.

“A sworn statement is one signed under oath before a notary public,” Sharpe said.

“If a protestor believes that these entertainment places are not appropriate places for the sale of alcoholic beverages,” Sharpe said the protestor should consider stating as the legal grounds the statement found in Section 11.46 (8) of the TABC Code—the “place … in which the applicant may conduct business warrants the refusal of a permit based on the general welfare, health, peace, morals, and safety of the people and of the public sense of decency.”

Sharpe said one argument in support of this legal ground is that if alcohol permits are denied because of the close proximity of a residence, church, school or daycare facility to the place where alcoholic beverages are to be sold and no approval would occur to sell these beverages in a school or daycare facility, then these entertainment places should be denied a permit since they are attended more by children accompanied by their parents or someone responsible for their welfare.
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN. For more information, contact a local TABC office; write to P.O. Box 13127, Austin, TX 78711; or call 512-206-3333. Local TABC offices are posted online or can be obtained by calling the Austin office. To express concern to Six Flags management about the decision, call guest relations at 817-640-8900 or 817-530-6000 or write to Six Flags Over Texas, 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX 76010 and Hurricane Harbor, 1800 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, TX 76006.

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  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter