After Losing Lawsuit, Council to Meet on Liquor License Issue

Following Judge Ronald Bookbinder's decision last week in favor of East Gate, Moorestown Township Council will discuss their options at a public meeting this week.

UPDATE: A meeting has still not been scheduled to discuss the outcome of the East Gate lawsuit, township manager Scott Carew said Monday.

He said the township is looking at the end of this week or early next week (after the Labor Day holiday on Monday) to hold the meeting. 


Township council will meet this week to discuss its options after . 

Bookbinder ruled last week the township couldn't confine the sale of alcohol to the Moorestown Mall, and invalidated both the township ordinance imposing the restriction and . 

Township attorney Thomas Coleman had no comment following the ruling, saying he would review the judge's decision with the township.

Township manager Scott Carew said council will hold a public meeting sometime this week to discuss its next course of action—though most of the meeting will likely take place behind closed doors since it concerns potential litigation.

Mayor John Button was reserved when asked what council might decide.

"We're putting our heads together on this," he said. "We always knew this could happen ... Everything doesn't go the way you planned it."

As of Friday afternoon, the council meeting had not been scheduled.

PREIT, which owns the mall and was a party to East Gate's lawsuit, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Button said he had spoken with representatives from PREIT, but didn't know what they planned to do.

Asked about the possibility of allowing liquor licenses at East Gate Square and whether that was an option council would consider, the mayor continued to be coy, but said, "? Probably not."

Check back with Moorestown Patch later this week to find out when the meeting will be held.

Joanne August 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Our town needs to fire Coleman. This guys advice has been at the center of every single local firestorm the past few years.
Townie August 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM
There would appear to be long and prosperous future in litigating the liquor zoning in town. I don't think we can move forward with 4 or 5 licenses already granted, as other lawsuits will claim the bidding was done without full understanding of the available locations. If we do go ahead, how happy are the folks in town going to be when PREIT sells one of the licenses on the secondary market for more than they paid a year from now? We're going to spend all of the license revenue figuring out where and to whom we sell the licenses to.
MotownFan August 26, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Townie...agreed. Many of us that voted yea to liquor but NO to restrtciting it. I think that the Kmart & Young Ave will change the bidding price. PREIT was smart in promising and quickly making good on $1mil bid because the price will now go up...in theory. My concern is that the law suit is grandstanding and stall tactics to put a kink in liquor process. In other words will there in fact be a bidding war? Is there really anyone else out there waiting to pay $1mil dollars? This decision cold be great news or just a way of slowing down the inevitable...? The IF has been decided. Now we will spend millions and years arguing where while the mall sits idle waiting for the end decision. If TC goes thru with selling them the 4 current licenses there will for sure be more law suits to come. If they TC renig or their end and put them back out to bid everything starts over. In the mean time those properties in the grey zoning area are going to beging arguing their rights.... Bummer. Question One would have and should have won on its own merit. Main Street will never be an issue so why do we care about other correctly zoned areas? This would all be done and mall well under construction.
Isaac' August 26, 2012 at 01:20 PM
What dies the mayor mean "we always knew this could happen" ? So before this referendum vote "we" knew that a judge could throw out question #2? With that possibility, "we" knew that could happen so "we" told the voters that they had to vote "yes on both" in order to it be restricted just to the mall? "we knew" that this could put Moorestown through a legal nightmare, and hence this special council meeting? Could we say, regardless of where people stand, that we rescind any liquor license promises, regroup, get the real legal advice, and have a legally correct referendum? It's a mess regroup and revote.
HomeBrew August 26, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Moorestown Slogan Contest: "Welcome to Moorestown: Governed by Court Order Since 2012!" Read more entries and post your own slogan here: http://homebrewsjavajive.blogspot.com/2012/08/moorestown-slogan-contest-updated.html
Ed Nice August 26, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Yeah right....... learn to read towie the Judge said you ( the town) still have the right to zone the licenses. They are just going to zone them to the src zone period which doesn't effect us as a town at all. Leaves them at the Mall/East Gate, Youngs Ave, and K-Mart Shopping center. So why is the sky falling again???
Ed Nice August 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Fan you know that won't stand up. IMO if they were interested in one all they had to do is make a proposal. Why do you think council went with proposals in the first place. So maybe they can't come back after the law suit and say they got screwed. If they had made the proposal and bid more than PREI, then PREIT wouldn't have been awarded 4 licenses. They want the last one they can still come back and make a proposal on the last one if that is the way council decides to hand the last one. I'm no lawyer and I'm not worried about any of this at all. Win win for Moorestown. They will now restrict the licenses to SRC zone and everything will work out just as it should have.
Ed Nice August 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Brew you need to get over yourself.
Rob Scott (Editor) August 26, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Townie, I'm not professing to know how this will all play out, and as I've stated before, we are a very litigious society. But I do think it's worth noting that Judge Bookbinder explicitly stated his decision did not affect the status of the licenses PREIT already submitted proposals for (and which the township is in the process of awarding), nor did East Gate challenge the validity of those licenses.
Bill August 26, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Rob, nothing in Bookbinder's decision mentions the status of the licenses PREIT has applied for. He may have said that to you or others in the press in an interview, but I can almost guarantee you that what he meant is that no issue was before him relating to the license applications. Thus, his opinion has no impact -- one way or another -- on the licenses. I could certainly see someone challenging the licensing process, arguing it was flawed because it proceeded under an ordinance scheme (now ruled illegal) that effectively did not permit anyone other than the Mall to bid. Yes, there will be an argument that someone could have filed a lawsuit like Eastgate or submitted a provisional application, but I'm not sure that position would prevail. The purpose of the public bidding requirement is to get the most money for the town. That happens when there are the most bidders. It seems to me hard to dispute that the process, which has now been held to have been flawed, wasn't open to the maximum number of potential bidders. I think the next step is for Council to decide where in town to permit liquor sales, then to pass the necessary ordinace. I like others assume Council will limit such sales to the SRC zone. Then the bidding process should start again from scratch. I think Council jumped the gun by allowing the process to get as far as it has with the lawsuit pending. In doing so, they may have created yet another legal mess which may precipitate another lawsuit.
Rob Scott (Editor) August 26, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Bill, You could be right. That's why I qualified my comment. As I've said before, anyone can sue for anything. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Elizabeth August 26, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Oh. My. God. Who cares? Why is everyone so concerned about where liquor is sold? Let them have it. At Eastgate and at Young's Avenue and wherever else someone wants to put a restaurant in Moorestown, and be successful. People drink. And they drink a lot. In Moorestown. Amazing! It's true. And fire that attorney. Whatever his hourly rate is, he's not doing a good job for this town. When will we get tired of spending money we don't have on stupid things in this town?
_ August 26, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Just wondering if Preit will fire the attorney who wrote question 2 and told us all it was legal.
Townie August 26, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Ed, I honestly don't care where the licenses go, and will concede that it's entirely possible they aren't worth $1M each and the PREIT offer is the best it ever gets. I agree it's in the town's best interest to keep the mall viable...and who cares if someone has a beer at Perkins or PJ's. The judge ONLY answers the questions asked. He isn't going to rule on ANYTHING that's not in the complaint. No.."by the way Moorestown, you better worry about this...". Nothing may ever come from anyone else, but I'd be willing to put up $5 that says someone else decides they didn't like the way this played out. Since we can afford $20M without a tax increase, I would think we'd want to limit anyone's suggesting the game was rigged. Re-open the process and start over. If the bids go down, they go down. At least its fair
HomeBrew August 26, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Patricia White August 26, 2012 at 06:33 PM
The judge's decision shouldn't have surprised anyone. Question 2 was put on the ballot as a ruse to lull fence-sitters in the debate on liquor into a false sense of security as to where liquor could be sold and to further the false narrative contrived by PREIT in cooperation with Council and their attorney that liquor was needed to "save" the mall. Mr. Coleman and Council didn't make a mistake -- they simply let lack of integrity and lots of money get in the way of doing what was right for the township. The mayor "always knew this could happen" because he knew, as did Coleman, that question 2 was invalid. Since the voters made their decisions based on a false premise, the results of that referendum should be thrown out, an honest referendum put forth, and a vote taken based on the facts and not on fabrications. And members of the PREIT choir on Council and their attorney should use some of that PREIT largesse to cover whatever legal chit these shenanigans are costing the township.
MotownFan August 27, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Rob. You have an awful lot to say to Mr Nice. I am wondering why you let Mrs Cranky Pants throw around accusations of impropriety. Legal decisions get over tuned everyday. How can you allow her to insinuate back handed play?
Rob Scott (Editor) August 27, 2012 at 02:07 AM
MotownFan, There is a difference. Ms. White often directs her accusations at members of council and other public figures. The standards are different. That said, I think Ms. White's suggestions that council, Mr. Coleman and PREIT were in cahoots—given that neither she, nor anyone else, has evidence to prove such claims (at least as far I'm aware)—are, frankly, irresponsible.
Patricia White August 27, 2012 at 02:39 AM
The fact that spot zoning is illegal in the state of New Jersey is information easily verifiable. If PREIT was ignorant of that fact, surely Mr. Coleman and members of Council should have been aware of it. To put forward a referendum with one of the two questions being unsupported by New Jersey law was -- how would you like to characterize it? A big OOPS perhaps? Aren't we paying for legal "advice" that protects the township from making such a blunder? Maybe I gave them too much credit -- maybe they are just uninformed and unprepared to do their jobs and not in "cahoots."
moorestowntruth August 27, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Us simple folk really don't care. BYOB is allowed in the more popular restaurants on Main ST already. Chances are your neighbor has some sort of alcholic beverage container in the recycle bin come recycling day. If anything having alchohol closer would help prevent moorestown citizens from driving longer distances while intoxicated (Think about that)....
Townie August 27, 2012 at 11:06 AM
During the election last year....a co-worker who was running for office in an adjoining town made a comment about our referendum and the fact spot zoning won't stand up. This wasn't an accident. It's a case of people assuming they're smarter than most. The PREIT lawyer isn't getting fired....they're getting a bonus. The whole cahoots discussion will play itself out over a much longer term than most people will care (if Coleman takes a job at PREIT in 5 years....will anyone remember?). What's obvious is that they attempted to rig the game...a year earlier than technically allowed (by adding airplanes and boats)....and have been told what they did was wrong. I don't care either way if we sell alcohol in town, but think we should have leaders who act ethically. When someone tells you the rules of the game aren't fair, then you start the game over....you don't finish what's been wrongly started.
Bill August 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM
PREIT’s strategy last year – which they disclosed in Q&A 4 in the “Fact vs. Fiction” page on their web site – was to try to limit the sale of alcohol to the Mall since they thought the 2007 referendum failed because the voters didn’t want liquor to be sold anywhere in town. So PREIT came up with Q 2 which has now been ruled to be illegal on several grounds. I firmly believe that PREIT, Coleman, and Council knew all along that Q 2 was illegal. The judge even broadly hinted as much during the lawsuit last year. PREIT didn’t really care if Q 2 passed or failed as long as Q 1 was approved. Sure, their druthers were to have a monopoly in town, but as a practical matter, if they got liquor licenses at the Mall, they weren’t concerned if there were a couple of additional liquor restaurants nearby. I’m no fan of PREIT’s, but as a business they will do what it takes to try to better their bottom line. I am most critical of Coleman and Council for approving Q 2 which was illegal from the moment it was conceived. Q 1’s legality may have been a close call, but Q 2’s never was. I am not saying Coleman and Council were “in cahoots” with PREIT – nor did Ms. White – but in their eagerness to get liquor licenses approved in town, they went along with PREIT’s Machiavellian plan.
Ed Nice August 27, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Ah the old double standard Rob....are you policing what lies are really lies and which ones are opinions.....Pat for someone who thinks they are so smart PREIT followed the referendum process and that is how it got on the ballot unlike others who tried to change words around. You lost and we have liquor hopefully in the other SRC places now. How come you never complain about the millions in the budget being used like Carew told us last week?
Tom August 27, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Bill, it might be presumptive but I am guessing you are the same Bill who filed the lawsuit last year that Hon. Judge Bookbinder ruled against. What surprises me is if you really believed question # 2 was illegal, why didn't you ask for an injunction at that time if it could have prevented this? I had my concerns but I am in favor of alcohol sales in town so it doesn't really offend me one way or the other.


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