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Mount Joy Borough Nixes Supermarket Alcohol in 5-4 Vote

LNP photo by Richard Hertzler

Citing concerns that Mount Joy Borough already has enough establishments where customers can purchase beer and wine, the transfer of a liquor license from the Ephrata Pizza Hut to a beer and wine cafe at Giant Foods was denied in a 5-4 vote.

Mount Joy Borough Council members Jon Millar, William A. Hall, Jake Smeltz, Lu Ann Fahndrich and Brian Youngerman voted in favor of the motion to deny the license transfer; the dissenting votes were cast by Joshua Deering, Mary Ginder, Mike Reese and Charles Glessner.

The decision to reject the license transfer was made at the Borough Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 10; it is an unusual one for the area. Elizabethtown Borough and Mount Joy Township had voted unanimously to allow supermarkets in their jurisdictions to sell beer and wine. The soon-to-close Darrenkamp’s store and the Giant store serving Elizabethtown are both in Mount Joy Township and both have permits to sell beer and wine. Elizabethtown’s Weis store is on the border between Elizabethtown Borough and Mount Joy Township with most of the store in the borough and most of the parking lot in the township; the borough voted to approve its application for a license transfer.

Giant had intended to sell beer and wine at its nearly 50,000-square-foot grocery store at 789 E. Main St., Mount Joy. In June, the borough approved transferring a liquor license into the borough for the adjacent Turkey Hill, 703 E. Main St.

Ellen Freeman, a lawyer from the firm of Flaherty & O’Hara, represented Giant at the meeting. She said the grocer intended to create a nearly 1,200-foot 30-seat wine and beer cafe. It would be located near the front left of the store and expand an existing café area. Beer and wine sales would be available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. She said the grocer has beer and wine cafes in 70 of its stores throughout the state including four in Lancaster County.

Additionally, Giant has an intensive training program for employees working the cafe area and a policy to check ID for everyone making a beer or wine purchase. Colin Heap, Giant’s manager of special projects, said including beer gardens at its grocery store is in response to its customers’ requests. A pharmacy at the Mount Joy Giant that will open later this month is also a result of customer needs. Heap also said Giant plans to acquire the liquor license from Darrenkamp’s Rapho Township grocery store.

“Customers have told us they want their shopping trip to be more comprehensive,” Heap said.

“Giant is not looking to be a local watering hole,” Freeman added.

Borough resident Bruce Harsh said he feels there are enough liquor licenses in the borough. Another resident Dale Murray, said grocery stores like Giant are driving the price of liquor licenses up and family-owned businesses cannot afford them.

“I actually feel better about this proposal than Turkey Hill’s. The question I ask is ‘how many liquor licenses is enough {for our community},” Smeltz said.

Giant has 30 days to appeal the decision. Any appeal would be filed in Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas. When contacted via email on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Freeman said Giant has not indicated if it would appeal the decision.

Also at the meeting, Mayor Tim Bradley thanked borough staff, emergency responders and emergency management personnel for their response to the Aug. 31 storm that dropped nearly 10.5-inches of rain on the borough in four hours causing flash flooding. Borough manager Sam Sulkosky said information received so far indicates that residents had nearly $4 million in property damage. He strongly advises individuals affected by flood damages to complete Individual Assessment forms available at the Borough office at 21 E. Main St., or on the borough website.

The Borough Council also authorized waiving construction permit fees for permits that might be necessary and associated with flood damage clean-up efforts. Council also waived the requirement for temporary obstruction permits for dumpsters in the right-of-way associated for clean-up efforts from flood damage.

In other business, the Borough Council approved two items relating to street repairs and sidewalk issues. The requirement to install curbing and sidewalk will be waived for two alley repaving projects this year–Spring Alley and Green Alley. The 2019 street paving schedule has been placed on hold until criteria for sidewalks and curbs are developed for streets and alleys.

”There is a lot of confusion about our requirements for sidewalks and curbing,” Youngerman said.

“The question now is: What do we tell everyone who already got their sidewalks done?” Deering said.

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