New alcohol election effort on the horizon in Three Rivers, Tx

By Ben Tinsley 
The Progress
THREE RIVERS — The owner of a 53-acre proposed commercial and retail development confirmed this week that efforts are underway to call a second, local alcohol election in November.

Rick Garza—who owns the planned Three Rivers Crossing at US 281 and IH 37 in Live Oak County—said he was unable to get this property annexed by the city in time to benefit from the passage of an identical measure last year. 

During that May 11, 2013, election, the legal sale of off-premise only alcohol passed with 105 voters for and 69 against. The legal sale of mixed beverages for on-premise consumption at a certified restaurant passed with a vote of 121 to 56, records show.

Garza, of Fort Worth, said he is working to present his property to the city of Three Rivers for annexation before the planned November 2014 vote takes place. Three Rivers Crossing is expected to host four hotels, six restaurants, two multi-family sites, two retail sites and an office. 

As many as 2,700 linear feet of roadway are also planned, according to a 2012 study conducted for Garza, by Professional Services Industry Inc. of San Antonio.

The previous alcohol election started last year with a signature petition circulated by a group titled Three Rivers Citizens For Progress, which has filed an official notice to do it again this year.

Billy Horton of the Austin governmental affairs and political consulting firm Hard Count was hired both then and now to help facilitate the election.

Horton said he has helped facilitate numerous alcohol elections throughout Texas and in areas of Oklahoma.

Joe Adam Galvan, owner of G&G Spirits and Fine Wine at 101 East Thornton, was a member of this group during the previous election. He said Horton sought him out to help get signatures for the petition, and he would be open to doing it again.

“He knew we were from here,” Galvan said. “He got in contact with us, which is when we got everything rolling.”

If the property is annexed into Three Rivers, it could mean much more tax revenue for the city, Garza said.

This would require getting at least 39 signatures on a petition—which Three Rivers City Administrator Rosie Forehand said would have to amount to 10 percent of the registered voters in the last county election.

As there were 392 registered Live Oak County voters in the November 2013 constitutional election, according to the county elections office, that petition signature number would be at least 39, possibly 40, (the 10 percent percentage number comes out at 39.2).

Garza said because the push for the election didn’t include the Three Rivers Crossing property, it basically nullified his reasons for getting the election started.

“Because it didn’t do us any good at that time, we have decided to do it again,” Gave explained. “In our property master plan, some of our restaurants are going to be fast food, but with the sit down restaurants we want to have the ability to sell alcoholic beverages with food. That is the primary reason we are doing what we are doing.”

As part of this drive, members of “The Three Rivers Citizens For Progress” announced in a recent edition of The Progress—as they did a year ago with the previous election—they intend to seek local petition signatures.

While he did not immediately have numbers, Garza predicted the effect the annexation would have on the local economy would be significant.

“The hotels alone are huge,” Garza said. “You have to remember we pulled in Love’s and sold them 10 acres. When they opened up, we went through the annexation process. They opened in August 2010, and their annexation occurred shortly after that.”

Information used in this story was contributed by The Progress reporter Melissa K. Lovett.



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