According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), Newtown Township has 14 “Active” restaurant liquor licenses plus one held in “Safekeeping” for Blue Point Grill, which is scheduled to open in July 2023 (see chart). This is more than two times the quota of 7 such licenses (1 license per 3,000 municipal residents) allowed by law (“Liquor Code”).
Restaurants (bars, taverns), eating place licensees (places selling beer only), and clubs are generally subject to the quota while “while licenses granted to public venues, performing arts facilities, continuing care retirement communities, airport restaurants, municipal golf courses, hotels, privately-owned public golf courses, racetracks, non-primary pari-mutuel wagering locations and national veterans' organizations are not subject to the quota.”
Counting all these venues, Newtown Twp has 21 licenses to sell liquor, beer, or wine.
Municipal authorities – e.g., Board of Supervisors – “must approve the transfer of licenses into the municipality in excess of the municipal quota... The approval must happen through written resolution passed at a public meeting. If a municipality refuses to allow a license transfer, the PLCB cannot transfer the license into that municipality (read, for example, “Blue Point Grill's Liquor License Transfer Not Approved”).
At the March 9, 2022, BOS meeting, I voted to deny the approval of a transfer of a liquor license by the Blue Point Grill because I believed there were more than a dozen establishments with liquor licenses in Newtown Township and having more licenses to sell liquor would adversely affect the welfare, health, peace and morals of residents (see video):
In the end, I was happy that the owner managed to purchase the liquor license from a Newtown restaurant that shut down and supervisors unanimously approved the application.
If Wawa comes to Newtown can it apply for a license to sell beer? If “yes”, it can do so WITHOUT the approval of the BOS. According to the E30 Ordinance, it will not be allowed to sell beer. Wawa, however, challenged the “validity” of that ordinance and the township may soon approve a settlement agreement to allow Provco/Wawa to develop a super store on the Bypass. Related content: “Wawa Expands Beer Sales in Bucks County”.
The newest restaurant that was granted approval from the BOS of a liquor license transfer is Capital Grille (read “Capital Grille Proposing To Open Restaurant In #NewtownPA Township” and “#NewtownPA Supervisors Approve Capital Grille To Open in Congested Brixmor Shopping Center”). Several residents who attended my 22 May 2023 Meet Mack Monday Zoom meeting felt that this would add to the parking problems in the Brixmor shopping center.
“The liquor license transfer and ongoing parking concerns at the center are expected to be key sticking points during the upcoming conditional use hearing,” reported the Patch. Why? I believe that preventing MORE liquor licenses from being transferred (aka, “imported”) into Newtown Twp is beneficial for the health and well-being of citizens, as evidenced by DUI accidents such as this one:
May 24, 2023: While on routine patrol shortly before 9 p.m., police observed a white-colored SUV traveling at a high rate of speed from the Newtown Bypass onto Swamp Road. The vehicle had extensive front-end damage, and the driver of a Jeep behind it called out that the SUV had just slammed into the back of his car. Police followed the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop in Helen Randle Park. As a result of the investigation, the operator was placed under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence. Charges are pending blood evidence results. Read “Police Log: Three DUI Crashes & More”.
What’s Your Opinion?
Do you agree or disagree with this statement: Newtown Township has enough Liquor Licenses. The Board of Supervisors should NOT approve more transfers of liquor licenses from other municipalities. TAKE THE SURVEY NOW: https://forms.gle/WkyiJGivg9hHLyTdA
Comments from Survey Respondents
To date – July 4, 2023 – 55 residents have responded to my survey. 50.9% Agreed, 45.5% Disagreed, and 3.6% had no opinion one way or the other. One respondent who DISAGREED said “An establishment such as CG will bring jobs and other economic benefits to the town.” While some additional business and Earned Income Taxes may result, the trade-offs – such as mentioned below –also need to be considered.
A respondent who AGREED said:
“BOS approved Brixmor for up to +-45% restaurant use which in hindsight was a real mistake given the parking and congestion problems restaurants bring. As you stated Brixmor, therefore, has approval to lease space not only to the Capital Grill but 2 more of similar size. More Brixmor restaurants is clearly not the answer. Newtown already has 2x of established PA and many other State laws for liquor license density. BOS can use their only remaining card, liquor license approval or denial, to try and slow and maybe contain the problems more restaurants will bring. Blue Point Grill denial of an outside transfer was correct. If BOS approve Darden Restaurants (Capital Grill) you should be ready for the next two big chains to do a 'me too' a situation you will not be able to contest or avoid. So much for 'shopping'. Won't be a 'shopping' destination but instead a restaurant destination with more concentrated arrival and departure times, local road congestion, policing strains, etc. The BOS have only one choice. No more liquor licenses in the town!”
Another respondent who AGREED said:
“Newtown is growing at a rapid rate for sure. The growth needs to be curtailed, and the character of the town maintained, otherwise it will not be such a desirable area. I’ve already been toying with the idea of leaving Newtown and relocating to a more subdued ‘small town’ atmosphere which attracted me here 20 yrs ago and sad to say is no longer true.”
More updates later...
Posted on 01 Jun 2023, 10:28 - Category: Public Safety