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TABC To Look Into City’s Protest Against Liquor License For New Bar

A protest from the city of El Paso, calling for the denial of a liquor license for a new bar, landed on the desk of TABC investigators on Tuesday.

According to a member of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission El Paso division, the protest asks the commission not to grant a permit to sell alcohol to the Miami Social Club, a club Monaco Entertainment Group LLC is attempting to open at the Hawkins Plaza in East El Paso.

The TABC has 10 days investigate the merits of the protest. Once that information is collected, its legal team will determine whether the protest has legal grounds.

If the investigators and legal team from TABC determine the protest has merit, and it will go to the State Office of Administrative Hearings in Austin. That process involves the information being introduced to a judge, with both sides pleading their case. The judge then issues a final decision on the permitting process.

The process to stop the Miami Social Club from opening began last week with the City Council when it approved a resolution to allow Mayor John Cook to issue the protest on behalf of the city. The resolution says that another bar located in Hawkins Plaza — the Three Legged Monkey — has already caused issues for the neighborhoods nearby. The resolution lists a fatal shooting, criminal activity and noise at all hours of the night among the complaints received.

David Cooper, a member of Monaco Entertainment, said his business is being unfairly targeted. In a phone interview with KVIA, Cooper said that the city is making assumptions that crimes will take place.

“The city, as well as the neighbors, had absolutely zero interest in any kind of resolutions or problem-solving methods,” Cooper said. “They didn’t care about security cameras or on-site security personnel.”

Cooper said the troubling part for him is that he isn’t being given a chance to open a business and prove that he’s capable of running a clean business.

The city’s resolution, passed during a City Council meeting earlier this month, seemed to acknowledge Cooper’s right to open a business but said it has a duty to the citizens: “the City of El Paso recognizes the right of an individual to open and operate a business; however, it is also responsible for ensuring the health, safety and welfare of its residents.”

Members of the neighborhood association that operates near Hawkins Plaza declined an interview, but they expressed hope that the protest to the TABC keeps a second bar from opening near their homes.

Cooper, meanwhile, says he plans to sue the city over it’s tactics in the case, citing his 14th Amendment rights. The suit has not yet been filed.

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