Beer sales at Weis? Public hearing Feb. 26

By on January 30, 2013

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Weis Market may be selling beer at its Lititz store in the not-too-distant future.

The possibility of six pack sales and beer on the menu for a new in-store restaurant was discussed Tuesday night when borough council approved a request by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to hold a public hearing on the matter. But while council has agreed to advertise and hold the hearing, council president Karen Weibel made it clear — the decision, whether or not to grant the required liquor license, was not a matter to be decided by Lititz Borough Council.

Plans for the Lititz store were detailed in a letter to borough manager Sue Barry from attorney Robert J. O’Hara III of the legal firm Flaherty and O’Hara, which is representing Weis Markets.

Weis is seeking a resolution from the borough approving the inter-municipal transfer of a Pennsylvania "R" (restaurant) liquor license from outside the municipality into the borough.

"Weis will be operating a restaurant inside its grocery store at 740 S. Broad St. in which it intends to sell beer," O’Hara said. "Weis plans to sell beer from the restaurant for consumption on premises in the restaurant and ‘to go,’ and may at some future date sell wine for consumption on the restaurant premises."

While the letter does not indicate where the company intends to acquire the available license, it does say that it is from another firm located within Lancaster County and was necessary since no similar license was available from within the borough limits.

As such, the borough will need to advertise and then hold a public hearing in which the details of Weis’ plans can be explained while also giving the public an opportunity to be heard on the matter.

Council plans to hold the hearing at its Feb. 26 meeting.

Weis already has a local store which is following this model. Their Wyomissing location in Spring Township, Berks County, is one of 18 stores already holding PLCB licenses.

"I think it’s time for a field trip to check this out in Spring Township," recommended council president Karen Weibel. "At the end of the day, we have no say on this."

Weibel pointed out that not only can Weis obtain the license without the blessing of borough council, there is nothing that can be done through zoning or ordinances.

"Everything they are seeking is permitted," added Weibel. They are in the highest and most permissible use in that district. They are not expanding their footprint. It is not a zoning issue. And the use is permitted in that zone."

Weibel and others on council are concerned that this could present an unfair competitive advantage against nearby Flory Distributing.

Barry explained that council could vote on a decision, whether or not to support the move, as early as the night of the public hearing, but could have up to 45 days to make that consideration.

Council member Scott Hain expressed his frustration over the whole process.

"What do we vote on if we don’t have a say in this," he said.

"At the end of the day it is the state that will have its say, but this is the value of a hearing, to let the community be heard," added Weibel. "The PLCB has recommendations, but they are a bit nebulous because the state will do and say what they please. What’s in the book does not really matter." More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A7