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Council Gets 'Food for Thought' on Liquor Licenses

The township attorney laid out council's options, but they haven't made a decision yet.

Members of township council met Wednesday to hash out their options after a , but won’t make any decisions until Monday at the earliest.

Council met behind closed doors for roughly an hour while solicitor Thomas Coleman brought them up to speed on the decision rendered by Superior Court Judge Ronald Bookbinder last month. Ruling on a , Bookbinder shot down a township ordinance aimed at restricting the issuance of licenses to the mall, and also invalidated the second referendum question.

Township manager Scott Carew said Coleman presented council with various options for how to move forward during the executive session.

“He basically gave council food for thought,” said Carew.

Neither Carew nor any of the council members—or Coleman, for that matter—were inclined to go into detail on what those options are or which way council might be leaning.

However, it’s safe to say council’s options are limited to the following: appeal Bookbinder’s decision, file a motion for reconsideration (which the judge said he’d entertain), or amend the ordinance regulating liquor licenses to be less restrictive.

The latter course of action could be met with some resistance, , assuming Question 2 was enforceable and alcohol would be confined to the mall property.

Resident Monique Begg raised this concern when she addressed council prior to the closed-door session, suggesting the township should resubmit the referendum to the voters.

“It’s only fair,” she said. “People voted with a clear understanding that we needed to vote for (questions) one and two.”

Coleman replied there was no need to put the referendum before voters again, since Bookbinder’s ruling made it clear Question 1 was still “valid and enforceable.”

Coleman also pointed out Bookbinder brought by resident/attorney Bill Cox last year. .

Following Wednesday's executive session, Coleman said he and Carew would work together to “craft an appropriate course of action as to how (the township) should proceed” and present it to council at their regular meeting Monday.

When asked whether he and Coleman would present a menu of options or a single recommendation to council, Carew said that hadn’t been decided yet.

Though Coleman said he believed PREIT, owner of the Moorestown Mall, was preparing a motion for reconsideration of Bookbinder’s ruling, Carew explained that PREIT’s plans wouldn’t play any role in the township’s decision.

“Our action will be taken independent of PREIT,” said Carew.

Town council meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the IT room at .

Rob Scott September 07, 2012 at 04:06 PM
life time resident, I have several years experience working at a number of restaurants—both BYOs and those that serve alcohol—and speaking from experience I can tell you the atmosphere at an establishment that serves alcohol is very different from a BYOB, which is generally what makes the former far more popular than the latter. It's the atmosphere. The ability to sit and have a drink while you're waiting for your table, or just to sit at the bar and enjoy a cocktail by itself, with no meal. It may be surprising—given the markup on alcohol at some places—but people are willing to pay, and pay a lot, for that.
Our Town September 07, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Quite honestly, I don't even drink so a restaurant offering it or not makes no difference to me, but I understand that I may be in the minority and I understand that attraction may help the dismal ratables situation. What Moorestown needs is to take a hard look at the status of the town and its problems, to apply careful, long term planning, to address those problems, and begin rebuilding the prosperity of this town. We cannot continue to sink our heads in the sands of Money Magazine circa 2005 in the hopes that a one time designation of the best town will be enough to carry us back to greatness. Wasted money, wasted resources, leadership that at best, fails to listen to their constituents, at worst, outright schemes to fool them, the deteriorated main street that everyone is fearful to criticize, blight in plain sight that most are keen to pretend does not exist, these are all symptoms of a faltering town, faltering leadership, and failure to understand the issues, let alone making the tough decisions to address them.
Ed Nice September 07, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Own Town I have a problem understanding how you say leadership that fails to listen to their constituents. Don't you mean fails to listen to you? Our town council did elect to listen to their constituents. Problem is, it's not the side you agree with. Does that make council wrong. No, they took a side and decided to start and rebuild as you say some of the towns problems. Our fields are a big issue though some that don't use them don't seem to understand that. As I see it they are also trying to get town hall done. The delays are not on them but on the designers. First time around it was way over budget and all 5 elected to start over. Waste of money? Maybe, but they did as they were advised to do. Are they wrong??? No, not in my mind. I know you don't want the town hall and I personally don't think it should get started for another 2 years at best. But it is about what the majority wants in this town. All voices are heard but that doesn't mean the minority gets their way. You also say in one breath we need to get control of the spending/bonding problems, but then you say we need to rebuild and address the issues of this town. Well unless our town is playing the lottery the only way to pay for this stuff is to bond it to make it affordable with or with out a tax hike. And by the way under this town council spending is down not up. That is why the towns side of the taxes have stayed near neutral as possible.
Bill September 07, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Honestly, this is where I think Bookbinder screwed up in his ruling. Q2 doesn't restrict license sales to the Moorestown Mall (spot zoning) as Bookbinder says. "located on the same tax lot as an indoor shopping mall in the SRC zoning district" So it could be any mall built on any of the SRC zone lots. All that makes a mall ( legally defined) is multiple stores with an indoor walkway. And the second part states it can't be sold in other zones. At worst his rulling should have stopped the sale only to the mall. The second section restricting sales to SRC zone stores should have stood as that is certainly legal. But he never should have been the judge anyway. I wonder if he voted on the referendum ?
Cheap Seats alumnus September 09, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Well, a interesting thought would be to keep the booze on the other side of route 38? Any other thoughts ? Or route 38 and pleasant valley to mt laurel border?

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