Liquor sales vote revisited in Moorestown

MOORESTOWN, N.J. - August 19, 2011

Moorestown clerk's office has verified enough signatures on petitions asking for a referendum, and it looks like voters in that dry town will be asked to decide once again to permit liquor sales.

The idea to permit the sale of alcohol in Moorestown was soundly rejected two years ago, but supporters are pushing the idea again, this time with a twist: only full-service restaurants planned at the Moorestown Mall on Rte. 38 would be able to sell wine and liquor.

"As long as it's just in the higher end restaurants and not package goods, I think it might help the mall," said Gail Buchanan. "The mall is struggling."

The company that operates Moorestown Mall says permitting alcohol in restaurants will help jumpstart business and generate millions for the township through the sale of liquor licenses.

Folks who live and work in the quiet, upscale community voiced their opinion.

"It's going to bring more business in, it's going to increase the economy, bring more stimulus in, more jobs," said Mark Donohue.

"I look at Cherry Hill Mall and I think they're thriving over there. They have a lot of nice restaurants that have liquor licenses," says Nancy Custer.

But others fear selling alcohol could change the atmosphere there.

"I think it would probably open a door we're not trying to open in Moorestown, it would give precedent to start arguing why not have liquor on Main Street?" said William Burris.

"For the mall, I can maybe comprehend to bring in bigger revenue, but just not for us," said Florian Lawrence. "Not on Main Street."

Supporters are organizing a full court press to try to get voters to approve liquor sales. They are sending out letters, they've started a website and eventually hope to meet face to face with voters.

"Once the door is open, it's hard to close, but if they can keep it restricted to the Moorestown Mall area, I think it might be a good opportunity for the township to make some money," John Blum.

If the town council approves it next week, the question will be on the ballot in November and voters will have their say again.

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