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UPDATE: 'Yes' Wins: Moorestown Liquor Referendums Pass

By a margin of roughly 60 to 40 percent, voters chose "Yes" on both liquor license referendums.

UPDATE: PREIT president Joe Coradino admitted he was pretty surprised by the results of Tuesday's referendum vote.

It wasn't the outcome—he was expecting to win—but he didn't anticipate such a clear victory.

"The way I looked at this was, I was thinking we were going to win by a narrow margin," he told Patch Wednesday. "And that was sort of driven ... by the passion, and commitment, of the opposition."

Coradino's measured optimism was off however, with roughly 60 percent of voters favoring "Yes" on both referendums.

"It's—what do the politicians call it?—a mandate. I think we got a mandate last night," he said. "The residents banged the table and said, 'We want this,' didn't they?"

With the vote now in the rear-view, Coradino said PREIT will focus its efforts on fulfilling the promises it made during its campaign: bringing in high-end restaurants, improving the theater and mall, and, most importantly, .

"In the big pictures, this was a step," he said. "We plan on delivering on our message."

Though he was unable to provide a specific timeline, Coradino said PREIT anticipates having most or all of the four restaurants built and open within the next year. The theater expansion, he said, will likely come in early 2013.

During a tele-town hall last week, Coradino revealed PREIT had signed letters of interest with two more restaurants (in addition to ) and is close to reaching an agreement with a second celebrity chef. This last restaurant would be on the same level as the Vetri restaurant, he said.

Coradino declined to name those restaurants, saying he wants to have all three locked in before he makes an announcement, so they can "make a big splash."

"I want to thank the residents of Moorestown for their support," Coradino said.

____________________

By a margin of about 60 to 40 percent, Moorestown voters chose to lift the township’s century-long embargo on alcohol sales.


Nearly 50 percent of registered Moorestown voters—a high number for an off-year election, according to poll workers—turned out to pass the referendums.

Though the results are still unofficial, the final tally was 4,138 “Yes,” 2,750 “No” on Question 1, and 3,750 “Yes,” 2,876 “No” on Question 2. The results won’t become official until the absentee ballots are counted and the votes are certified, something that normally takes several days.

By approving Question 1, voters elected to open the township—dry since the early part of the 20th century—to liquor licenses. And by approving Question 2, they voted to limit the use of those licenses to restaurants at the PREIT-owned Moorestown Mall.

“Obviously, this is a big night for the people of Moorestown,” said Seth Broder, a member of the pro-referendum group Property Tax Relief for Moorestown (PTRM). “Our goal from day one was to run an honest and transparent campaign that would dispel any rumors about the process … I believe we’ve accomplished that.”

A similar referendum was rejected by a nearly 2-1 margin in 2007. That referendum placed no restriction on the use of liquor licenses.

This year’s vote likely passed because of the inclusion of an educational component that was sorely lacking from the 2007 referendum, said Jacob DerHagopian, chair of the township’s economic development advisory committee (and also an advocate with PTRM).

Referendum opponents had waged a campaign of their own in hopes of seeing the questions fail and were surprised Tuesday not just that “Yes” won, but how large the margin of victory was.

“I thought if they were going to pass, it would be closer,” said resident Bill Cox. “And I’m surprised number two passed. I thought that one didn’t have a lot of support.”

He said the vote almost “flip-flops the results from four years ago. It was a very dramatic turnaround.”

Poll workers said the turnout was higher than usual, and though they couldn’t be certain, suspected the referendums had a lot to do with that.

“I don’t think it’s who they’re voting for,” said Carol Juliano, who was manning the table at District 17.

Beth Schroeder, a poll worker at District 19, said before 5 p.m. hit—the after-work rush—they had seen more than 30 percent of the district’s registered voters.

“You wouldn’t be near that number without the issues,” said fellow poll worker Thomas Horner.

Cox, a commercial litigation attorney, had to have the referendums stricken from the ballot. A Superior Court judge and an appeals judge ruled against him, leading Cox to take the case to the state Supreme Court.

However, following Tuesday’s vote, he said he plans to “give it some thought about whether to proceed with (the lawsuit) … I’m not going to decide tonight.”

PREIT president Joe Coradino could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

DerHagopian said the passage of the referendums represents “a major step forward in the economic sustainability of our town … Moorestown is really positioned as one of the most exciting stories in the entire Delaware Valley area.”

Follow Moorestown Patch throughout the week for continuing coverage of the referendum vote.

Chris Welch November 10, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Bill- I don't care what or who you were responding too. It's your post. We pass the referendums. In good faith, Preit purchases the licenses for millions of dollars, and the next year we recind them without giving the money back. You don't think that would say something(negative) about the people in a town that would do that ? "Hey thanks for the millions PREIT, good luck with the licenses you can't use." Why am I not surprised you don't see a problem there.
Bill November 10, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Chris, I think that would be unfair, too, but that is the position PREIT advocated. It is now the law. If you don't like it, complain to PREIT, not me. They made this law. Anyway that is the way the legislative process works. A law passed one year can be repealed the next. PREIT knows that. PREIT is willing to take the risk that Moorestown won't be voted dry again. Maybe that's true, maybe it isn't. We'll have to see. If what you say is correct, wet towns could never vote to go dry. But that isn't the case. Not only has it happened in NJ, but the law expressly provides for such a process. Just as PREIT had a right to bring a petition, so too do the no advocates. How long do the "nos" have to wait in your view to bring another petition? Or is it your position that the no advocates don't have any rights under the law and can never bring another petition? BTW, it is not unprecedented in New Jersey for towns to flip flop between wet and dry and back again. Congrats to PREIT on a successful campaign. Just as PREIT learned lessons from the 2007 referendum, the no advocates have learned lessons this year.
Chris Welch November 10, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Bill - geezus, how can someone have a discussion with you with some of the garbage you write. "that is the position PREIT advocated. It is now the law. .........They made this law. " Really Bill ? PREIT made a law ? Interesting, and here I thought only our state legislature could do that. "If what you say is correct, wet towns could never vote to go dry" What do you think I wrote that indicates towns could never go dry again ? "How long do the "nos" have to wait in your view to bring another petition? " They can do it whenever they want. "Or is it your position that the no advocates don't have any rights under the law and can never bring another petition? " This question is beyond dumb. "PREIT would get no compensation for its licenses if that were to occur, particularly because its licenses would still be valid even if alcoholic beverages couldn't be sold for on site consumption." I would really like to see where you came up with the information to backup what you wrote.
In the Middle November 10, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Bill, exactly who do you think Sammy S was referring to? And yes, the oppostion has rallied against anyone who does not have a name like Ralph or White--put two and two together. Also the damaging remarks about Joe Coradino's heritage put out by the oppositon was read by all. The opposition has no choice now. Either support the majority rule of the town ( and thankfully that is out of the hands of the likes or Ralph and his cronies on the Affordable Housing Committee) or wait your time until you can run for council. You will need to use your full name when you are a candidate. In the mean time, stop humoring the oppositon extremists-they did nothing but show their true colors and it was ill received.
In the Middle November 10, 2011 at 10:50 PM
As the oppostion huddles together in clandestine locations plotting to overturn what the majority of the town voted on and hoping to convert supporters of the referendum and also praying for the demise of Moorestown's largest taxpayer-- The rest of the town will be tending to those committees that take care of our parks, facilities, services and citizens. Our schools will be busy educating our students who will learn about democracy and majority rule. So continue to plot------the new stewards of Moorestown will be watching over town and taking good care.
Bill November 10, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Case law, Chris, not statutory law. PREIT took the position in the litigation that the five year rule does not apply to petitions brought under different sections. That position prevailed. So it is now the law, unless or until another court disagrees. If you agree the no advocates can bring another petition to go dry whenever they want, it doesn't sound like we disagree. If you agree a wet town can vote to go dry, we have no disagreement. In terms of compensation, NJ law expressly says liquor licenses are not property. See the second sentence of the second para. in this statute: http://law.onecle.com/new-jersey/33-intoxicating-liquors/1-26.html The licences are just that: licenses. Since they are not "property," the holder of a license doesn't get compensation. And there are other ways for a license holder to lose his licence. He doesn't get compensation in those circumstances either.
Bryan Reddan November 10, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Bill - If there were a referendum next year, as you suggest, it would be to overturn a section of the statue that has NOT been enacted - and therefore would do nothing. Am I interpreting that wrong? A very specific statute was approved by referendum this year - that specific statute cannot be voted on for another 5 years, yes?
Bill November 10, 2011 at 11:06 PM
IM, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and conclude you simply have an overactive imagination and that you are not hurling made up and apparently baseless charges. The referendums had nothing to do with race, religion, or ethnicity. They were about wildly differing views of what is best for the town. Now, your side won this round. Congratulations for that. But when our side won by an even more convincing margin in 2007, your side did not adibe the will of the people and acquiesce. You learned some lessons and came back with another petition. Why doesn't our side have the same right? Nobody is praying for the demise of the Mall. But at least my view of whether alcohol will materially help the Mall is quite different from yours. But I guess we will see.
Bill November 10, 2011 at 11:26 PM
BR, there can't be another referendum for five years under the section PREIT used this year, but there can be a referendum next year under the (different) section PREIT used in 2007.
Varsity November 10, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Bill - You are absolutely wrong. Sorry bud. The 2007 referendum was a failed referendum. There's no court that will uphold a challenge to a failed referendum. Legally, the No side hasn't a leg to stand on. Do your research tomorrow, BEFORE you post please.
In the Middle November 11, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Bill, we do not see to eye to eye--but even more important...it was never about about winning with me and it was always about what was in the best interest about the economic health of Moorestown. That is what seperates you from me--you cared about winning. Moorestown has taken a proactive stance. Mr. George expressed what many many people believed to be true about the oppostion and their characterization of "you people". The proponents make up a wide cross section of our town and do not outcast someone because they are not a fake puritan or pilgram or quaker-- How does that saying go? On yes, the gig is up for the oppostion. The lies and misrepresentations did not work for them. Good Night.
MaryB November 11, 2011 at 12:22 AM
IM and KIR made the only posts that I read that I think are bigoted, until this post from Mr. George. Mr. Varsity, you are wrong about the questions. Remember how so many of you chortled about the court ruling that this year’s question was different from the 2007 question? That makes the 2007 “different from” this year’s question, then. Different questions can be brought every five years, as in, the 2007 can be brought for a vote again in 2012. Why ever would you think the 2007 question is the same as 2011?
Bill November 11, 2011 at 12:35 AM
I am not sure what point you are trying to make. No one is talking about challenging the 2007 referendum in court. The 2007 referendum was under Section 45 of the statute. Whether or not that referendum was approved, another referendum under the same section can be brought in 2012. I am not aware that PREIT has ever disputed that another referendum could be brought in 2012. For good reason -- PREIT was leaving its options open for 2012 in the event this year's referendum wasn't approved.
Bill November 11, 2011 at 12:44 AM
I think you and perhaps others miscontrued the "you people" sentiment. To the extent such a sentiment existed, it was directed at perceived newcomers who wanted to change "our town," but it was never based on race, religion, or ethnicity. It was simply based on "new" verses "established." If you are a "perceived newcomer" and have lived here for many years, I can understand your taking offense. But please don't turn this into something it never was, some type of bigoted movement. I take offense to that. Like you, I want what I think is best for the town. If that is "wanting to win," then each of us "wants to win." I see no difference there. You wanted to "win" just as much as I did.
Varsity November 11, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Bill, PLEASE consult a competent Attorney - and come back and post afterwards. Then you won't have to take anyone's word for it, as you would have heard it from your own attorneys. Moorestown cannot bring this, or any, anti liquor referendum back for a vote next year. As for now, the VAST majority has spoken. Our Mall is to be transformed. The only difference to our town will be, as you drive down RT 38, you will see a beautiful Mall with a packed parking lot. And the 4300 voters that had the vision will smile with each and every pass by!
Varsity November 11, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Mary, you didn't even vote. Why side now with the losing side?
Bryan Reddan November 11, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Bill - What I'm getting at is that twice in the last 4 years Moorestown has voted whether to enact a piece of the NJ statutory law that would allow liquor sales in town. While seemingly the same thing, NJ has deemed the questions we voted on to be completely independent of each other, hence the ability to overcome the 5 year window necessary to vote on the same thing twice. So if the 2007 vote was to enact Staute A, then the 2011 vote was to enact Statute B, which we did...so Statute A is not applicable in Moorestown. Therefore, we cannot vote in 2012 to overturn a statute ("A") that is not applicable in town. Statute B, which is applicable, cannot be voted on for another 5 years. These referendums have to refer to specific sections of the law, not just the general premise of allowing liquor sales, I think (not a legal expert by any stretch...).
Bryan Reddan November 11, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Bottom line - the referendum that was voted through this year cannot be voted on again until 5 years from now. The talk of putting a referendum on next year's ballot to nix this thing is nonsense, because you cannot overturn a statutory regulation that does not exist. 60-40 tells the story...Moorestown is looking positively towards the future, and I'll offer a whole-hearted Amen to that!
MaryB November 11, 2011 at 02:28 AM
I'm not "siding" with either "side". I am disturbed by several people having been mislead by the Tax Relief PAC PR on the referendum questions. Mr. Reddan and Mr. Varsity, you are just two of those people. The 2007 referendum question has been ruled by the judge to be a different question. It can be brought back again in 2012. Everyone who voted for licenses to be restricted to the Mall should now be very disturbed that Town Council now says it may not try to pass anything like the restrictions in #2, and in addition, is considering establishing a local liquor control board which would not be under the control of Town Council or any elected officials.
Bryan Reddan November 11, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Exactly!! I promise you I have not been misled (proper spelling) at all...since the 2007 referendum is different than the 2011 referendum, the recent allowance of liquor sales cannot be overturned by another referendum next year...period. 60-40 tells the story....
andy reid November 11, 2011 at 02:50 AM
this is all right up there with the eagles. after losing, andy always makes excuses and discusses how it will be different next time but in the end, we keep losing. its been like 48 hours and the opposition who apparently forgot to vote is already on the attack. get a life people. it passed. wasn't even close. you know the phrase fool me once...well that happened in 2007 and not 2011. it cannot be overturned nor would it be because you lost big. there are too many independent thinkers in this town who don't believe the lies small minded people tell . if you don't like it, get another yellow sign - one that says for sale by weichert on it. my only concern now is how long until i can eat a steak with my cabernet at the mall.
Keeping It Real November 11, 2011 at 03:27 AM
MaryB Dont forget to file a PAC net time
Mark Potosky November 11, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Rob, I'm a fan of no mall, but how is 38 and Haddenfield Road higher traffic than 38, 73 and 295? -mark
Mark Potosky November 11, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Now that this is over let's all go back to hating Comcast and the "modern in 1999" cable service the are kind enough to provide us! While we're at it, let's also figure out what really happened to our only real chance at true TV compition; Verizon's FIOS service.
Bill November 11, 2011 at 02:22 PM
BR, that isn't correct. The NJ statutes on alcohol referendums work both ways. They can be used in a dry town to go wet or in a wet town to go dry. The vote in any alcohol referendum is not to enact a specific statute but whether to legalize or prohibit certain types of alcohol sales. In 2012 the same statute that was used in 2007 can be used to vote the town dry. Under your interpretation a wet town could never vote to go dry. That isn't the case and in fact has happened some number of times in NJ.
Bill November 11, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Sorry V, but you are wrong. Check with PREIT's lawyers if you don't believe me. They are the ones who advocated for this position. They made their bed. Now they have to sleep in it. There can't be a petition next year under the section used this year, but there can be a petition under the section used in 2007 since the five years will have run.
Bill November 11, 2011 at 02:45 PM
BR, let me elaborate. Under Q 1 the voters approved all retail sales of alcoholic beverages. That would permit liquor stores, bars, package goods, as well as restaurants serving alcohol by the glass. Q 2 knocks out everything except restaurants, assuming Council enacts the ordinance contemplated by Q 2. A referendum next year under the section used in 2007 would not overturn the results of the 2011 vote, but, if passed, it would prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic beverages by the glass or other open receptacle. Liquor stores and package goods sales would still be legal, that is, if Council passed the necessary ordinance. Look at it another way. Under the 2007 referendum the sale of alcoholic beverages for on site consumption was voted down, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages for on site consumption. If what what you are saying is correct, that means there couldn't be such sales for one more year. But PREIT clearly plans to open its restaurants before Nov. 2012. It is pretty simple. Either side can bring a petition every five years under each separate section. PREIT used that rule to its advantage this year. The no advocates can do the same next year. Yes, the vote was 60-40 this year, but it was 62-38 in 2007. The point is, voters change their minds. No reason it can't happen again.
Lucy November 11, 2011 at 04:06 PM
in an earlier post Bill you wrote "Putting Main St. aside, the key problem with limiting liquor to the Mall is that Q 2 isn't going to pass regardless of what happens to Q 1. I don't know anyone -- wet or dry -- who thinks Q 2 will be approved. So there will be no restrictions to the Mall." We VOTED YES on BOTH and Q2 PASSED BIG!
Bill November 11, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Well, you got me there, Lucy. But I don't think I was the only one who thought Q 2 wouldn't pass.
Updates? November 14, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Mark please elaborate on cable service? You know something about fios? We last heard at a town council meeting the earliest was 2012?

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