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Council: Alcohol OK at Moorestown Mall, East Gate

Moorestown council members seemingly found a compromise Monday night between the will of the voters and a judge's ruling.

CLARIFICATION: The amended ordinance passed by council last night confines the issuance of liquor licenses to just the SRC (Specially Restricted Commercial) zone on the south side of Route 38.

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Caught between a judge’s ruling and the will of the voting public, township council tried to find a happy medium Monday night by confining alcohol to the Moorestown Mall and East Gate Square.

After Superior Court Judge Ronald Bookbinder ruled in and , the township faced multiple options, , which imposed the mall liquor restriction.

Solicitor Thomas Coleman, after collaborating with township manager Scott Carew, presented council with two possible amendments Monday: limit alcohol sales to the entire SRC (Specially Restricted Commercial) zone, which includes the mall, East Gate, Young Avenue and the Kmart shopping center; or limit sales to the SRC zone on the south side of Route 38—in other words, the Moorestown Mall and East Gate.

It quickly became clear the members of council supported the latter option.

“It’s the most consistent ordinance to carry out ,” said Mayor John Button. “It’s attractive from that standpoint, as well as an economic standpoint.”

Councilwoman Stacey Jordan, after noting the mall restriction was what voters really wanted, said the East Gate/Moorestown Mall option was “the second best thing.”

Bookbinder also invalidated the second referendum question—which asked voters if they wanted to confine alcohol to the mall—because he ruled it was an example of zoning by referendum.  

Deputy Mayor Greg Gallo said his personal preference was to open up licenses to the entire SRC, but was respectful of the will of the voters.

He asked Coleman whether the township could face any further legal difficulty with the amended ordinance, and while the solicitor said he “gave up trying to read Judge Bookbinder’s mind a long time ago,” he explained the judge’s ruling left the door open for certain types of restrictions.

Council unanimously approved the amended ordinance restricting alcohol to the mall and East Gate. And later in the meeting, they formally awarded four liquor licenses to PREIT, owner of the Moorestown Mall.

“Now it’s up to us to deliver,” said executive vice president Bruce Goldman, who was in attendance along with other PREIT representatives.

He said PREIT wasn’t in a position to announce the , but explained the establishments PREIT is negotiating with were waiting for council to award the licenses.

Goldman also noted the 30-day appeal period following the awarding of the licenses.

Coleman said he’s in the process of evaluating the —which he was sitting on until the resolution of the lawsuit—and expects he’ll be able to approve it in the near future.

“I have no reason to believe they’re not going to move forward,” he said.

East Gate’s proposal identified the on Nixon Drive as the possible future site of an “American-style bistro.”

Rob Scott (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 01:41 PM
MotownFan, Just to clarify—and I apologize that this wasn't in the original version of my story because it wasn't clear to me last night—but the amended ordinance confines liquor licenses to the SRC zone south of Route 38, not the entire area south of Route 38. So those office areas would not be eligible for a license, as I'm almost certain they lie outside the SRC.
Our Town September 11, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Classic bait and switch. The questions were split as a ruse to allow the issue back up for vote via corrupting loopholes because those proposing this knew that a straight vote on liquor alone would not have passed. Liquor or not makes little difference to me, it's the process that is shameful. In the end, PREIT doesn't care, their bought and paid for advocates on council don't care, the local drinkers don't care, they got what they wanted. Congratulations...eyes, meet wool.
Townie September 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I believe they are, but I assume the lease has an end date. There are also other stores and existing restaurants in the SRC on Young. If the lease is for 10 more years, are you happy with a vacant building so long as everyone is getting paid?
Red Alert September 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Judge Bookbinder is actually a registered Democrat, Maxie. OPRA the voter registration files from the town clerk and see for yourself. This isn't a partisan issue, some people want liquor, some people don't. Why do you need to turn everything into partisan rhetoric and venom? Council is making the best out of a bad situation, and hey, honestly, an extra $1-2 million in our town's coffers doesn't really sound like that bad of an idea..... We're still the #1 town. At least I think so. Liquor doesn't change that.
Red Alert September 11, 2012 at 02:21 PM
....All that being said, Coleman should get the boot for his incorrect assessments on this and other cases. Agree or disagree, a township attorney should have a better track record.
Arch Fisher September 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM
This is ridiculous... They have stepped in it and they can't seem to figure out how to wipe it off their boots. Maybe this is all part of the big plan! My layman's understanding of the judge's ruling is that the town cannot discriminate against other SRC entities. I see two alternatives: 1. Let licenses go to any of the 3 SRC zones 2. Bring the whole matter back to the public for a vote on whether they want liquor in the township at all
Tom September 11, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Liquor is here to stay unless you think enough people are foolish enough to not want the $5 or $6 plus million in revenues to go along with the new businesses and jobs that will be created during a period of miserable economic times. I didn't want it restricted to begin with.
life time resident September 11, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I just don't understand what would make this "ammended ordinance" any more legal that the first one.
life time resident September 11, 2012 at 02:57 PM
then the first one.....sorry
Lee Harvey September 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM
You people and your ridiculous conspiracy theories. The voters wanted alcohol and wanted it limited to the mall. The voters got alcohol limited to the mall and 50 feet across the street at East Gate. Really, are you losing sleep over it? Is the world ending? Every single one of you will be parked on a bar stool at the Mall or East Gate blathering on about how the voters were duped.
Travis Woods September 11, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Bookbinder is a Democrat.
Dienstag September 11, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Didn't you hear? Liquor is the first step in the coming of the Anti-Christ! ::rolls eyes:: Life will go on, people. Listen to Lee here. He makes sense.
maxie September 11, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Vote Democratic. Republican leadership - greed, divisive politics, booze, lawsuits, poor legal decisions, a $5.00 trash can fire costing us $14,a000,000,00 million dollars and counting; plastic fields costing $4,500,000.00 and counting. No leadership. Now, wasn't it you guys who gave us Button, Testa and Company..... We simply can't afford Republicans in Moorestown any more. Look at the mess the left us with #1 Town In America..... it more that just fake booze Rob Scott.... where have you been this past year???? VOTE DEMOCRATIC. Better leadership. Vote for a BETTER MOORESTOWN.
Them peeps September 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I'm voting republican, Phil Garwoods and his Buddy Pete miller came and talked with us last week about phils campaign.. New faces, fresh ideas . Guys I'm still waiting for our lawn sign.
This Is Our Town September 11, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I can't afford Democrats anymore. See, I built my business. Me. My hard work. My efforts. My money. Me. And I can't afford to elect people who want to tax me to death and drive me out of the state and town I love. Maxie, this isn't 2008. There is no hope left, but with luck, there will be change.
maxie September 11, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Lawn sign should read, " VOTE DEMOCRATIC ". True Leadership. True Stewardship.
maxie September 11, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Well now " THIS IS OUR TOWN ". Let's talk taxes. How are you - 1. Going to pay for that $5.00 trash can fire costing us now and counting $14,000,000.00 million dollars -- should most probably be $ 25,000,000.00 when you count all the ginmics going on .... 2. How are you going to pay for that $4,500,000.00 plus$20,000.00 per year maintenace for all those elite sports teams..... yada yada...... expenses....????? 3. You still paying for the meter running in town at the old gas station.... is is way over $1,000,000.00 and counting..... look up the bill..... 4. Now, your recent Republican TAX ( Assessment ) hike is going to wapp you in the butt..... how you going pay for that????? Notice the pattern REPUBLICANS>>>>>>>>>>>>> we simply can afford REPUBLICANS IN MORRESTOWN...... VOTE DEMOCRATIC... TRUE LEADERSHIP.
Red Alert September 11, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Maxie, to be fair, both the Republicans AND the Democrats really screwed up with the tax assessment issue when they had their chances over the years. As for tax increases, most tax increases are not from the Town Council, but from the School Board - so take it up with them. The sports teams are contributing to the payment and maintenance of the fields. It's just the facts. Now, here is your chance. Please, Maxie, enlighten those of us who aren't quite sure what we will do at the ballot box. I happen to like 2 of the GOP candidates and 1 of the Democrat candidates right now. What is it that the Democrats are going to do to lower taxes? Are they going to slash spending? Are they going to eliminate trash pick-up? Are they going to halt all projects (town hall, fields, etc) mid way after taking office? I am asking truly, genuinely, what is their plan? You defend them so robustly, I can only assume you will have a real answer. No bluster, please, just facts. Convince me to switch 2 of my votes from Republican to Democrat.
This Is Our Town September 11, 2012 at 06:19 PM
No, Maxie, the Democrat signs are those little ones that you can't see after dark. Seriously, I drove right past one and couldnt read it til I was right next to it, and didnt get the top and bottom part. Whoever designed them should be fired from the campaign, yellow on navy blue isn't visible once the sun goes down and their names are so small.
Joe Johnson September 11, 2012 at 06:37 PM
The world keeps spinning and life goes on. Just glad to see the chapter ending on this divisive stuff. Hoping 2013 brings much more peace in our town.
Joe Johnson September 11, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Maxie, you aren't helping your candidates by being "that person." You know which one I mean...... the one who posts on one topics, discussion after discussion, saying the same nasty things? Come on. Your candidates surely deserve a better spokesperson than an anonymous poster who can't seem to go anywhere but negative...........
MotownFan September 11, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Townie, Dont you think we would have heard from others by now... Stop with the mela drama and the what if's I AM SO TIRED of the constant attack on the character of those in office and especially of Tom Coleman. Legal opinions get turned over EVERY day. Have you ever heard of the appellate court...???? It is not criminal or negligent nor necessarily incompetence to interpret a legal document differently that the appellate decision. BTW wasnt the referendum actually written by PREIT attorneys...Capehard Scatchard I believe. One of the MOST reputable firms in the area. Stop please
MotownFan September 11, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Gossip has it that the owner of the property on Young Ave is not interested and nor are the current restaurants they lease to. Again stop stirring the pot with what if's. Let it go. Its not your call if the building is vacant if the owner is paying the taxes
MotownFan September 11, 2012 at 07:19 PM
AMEN!
MotownFan September 11, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Not me. Im a registered Democrat who will proudly again vote for Barack Obama but here in my home town of 40+yrs I will vote against Hines et al and for the republicans...whoever they are..:)
>;/ September 11, 2012 at 07:57 PM
maxie where did you learn how to spell? It's MOORESTOWN not MORRESTOWN and it's vote DEMOCRAT not DEMOCRATIC.
Townie September 11, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Fan. Your apparent interest in just getting it done while ignoring the potential issues explains your support of the current town representatives here. Everyone wants the money from the licenses (I do too), but what's the point of selling them and then spending half of the money on lawyers? Explain to me how the Route 38 suggestion isn't spot zoning? First we tried the mall approach. That failed. Now we're going to split the zone with a road? Why? If you're for liquor sales, why wouldn't you want to leave the option of selling it across the street open? I don't care if its on Young Ave, but shouldn't that be an option?Do you honestly think the other side of Route 38 is what the voters "really" wanted, but the shopping center across the street is going against their wishes? The position of the council and their adviser makes absolutely no sense. To be clear...I would approve the liquor in all SRC zones today. If that's not acceptable because you don't feel the voters would like it...then explain to me how the Rt. 38 suggestion isn't spot zoning. Nobody typing here has ever bought a drink in town...surely we can hold on a little while longer and get it right.
Bird's Eye View September 11, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Ginger? I'm with you, but it doesn't look like our indoor sports idea for the clubs and rec teams is going to happen. And neither, at least for now, a liquor license landing at the former acme on young ave. So when this long term lease is up, what do you think should go there? Rob tried this a few weeks ago but ideas other than booze are landing up with very little realistic ideas. Let's ponder ?
Bird's Eye View September 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I don't see Pete miller running? Who is Phil Garwood running with? What is he doing with phil Garwood meeting with people? Are they knocking on doors or have neighborhood parties? How do we people in town get to know the candidates better? Perhaps mr Miller or mr Garwood could enlighten us?
MotownFan September 12, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Birdseye wt* are you talking about?

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