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Objections Over-ruled: Booze-to-Go Ok’d
by Ron Davis

An addition to a Pennsylvania shopping center has finally gained approval for construction despite the determined opposition of local licensing authorities.

The owner of the shopping center, located in suburban Philadelphia, plans to build the addition to house a small market that would be adjacent to a locally popular restaurant that the shopping center owner operates. That market would sell take-out food and drinks from the restaurant. But because some of the drinks would be alcoholic beverages, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has to approve the plans, which it seems reluctant to do.

The Liquor Control Board objected to the market for two reasons. First, Board members argue, plans call for the restaurant and market to be separated by a public thoroughfare, a condition prohibited under the state’s liquor laws.

Second, the market would be only 205 feet from a church cemetery, and the Liquor Board pointed out that the law forbids selling alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a church.

The shopping center owner replied that the “thoroughfare” separating the restaurant and planned market has never allowed public access, but is used exclusively by service vehicles. As for the proximity to the church, the shopping center owner noted, the market would be some 500 feet from the church building itself.

A Pennsylvania court agreed with the shopping center owner, finding that no public thoroughfare exists between the restaurant and the proposed market. The court also concluded that “the market would not be within 300 feet of a church,” reasoning that the proper distance reference point is from the proposed market building to the church building, not to the church property line surrounding the cemetery.

The Liquor Board appealed that decision. But a Pennsylvania appellate court upheld the ruling in favor of the shopping center owner. (Gramland Prop. v. Pa. Liquor Control Bd., 807 A.2d 339 [Pa.Cmwlth. 2002])

Decision: October 2002
Published: November 2002



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