Houston Heights residents to vote for change to 'dry zone'

HOUSTON – In one month, about 10,000 residents in part of the Houston Heights area will have a chance to vote on whether they want stores to be able to sell beer and wine.

For the past 104 years, stores located in the “dry zone” area of the Heights have not been able to sell alcohol.

The ban was part of the prohibition movement.

The “dry zone” extends approximately from West 27th Street to the south and White Oak Bayou to the north; and from Lawrence and Dian in the east to Oxford in the west.

“It’s a pretty archaic law and it has restricted economic development in the Heights for over 100 years,” said Steve Reilley of the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition.

Thursday morning, the coalition joined with local leaders at the former Fiesta at North Shepherd and 23rd Street, to garner support for the measure.

If it passes, HEB is hoping to build a new store at the site, amid what has become a sort of grocery-store desert.

“I actually drive all the way out to Buffalo Speedway to go shop right now,” said resident Marie Wise. “There just simply aren't enough good quality and clean places in the neighborhood.”

The measure would allow stores such as HEB to sell beer and wine, but customers would not be able to drink on the premises.

Not everyone is on board with the idea.

Resident Neil Sackheim, who has lived in the Houston Heights for more than 30 years, wants to preserve the ideals that make the area unique.

“It has nothing to do with the practical part of keeping bars out of the Heights anymore,” Sackheim said. “It’s more of just being a part of what was important.”

HEB says that if the measure passes, it will open a store in the area in January 2018.