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.
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.”