Township commissioners deny Sheetz liquor license transfer
Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners voted 5-1 April 8 to deny a resolution that would transfer a liquor license to Sheetz.
Sheetz, the gas station and convenience store at 5001 MacArthur Road, was asking for approval of a liquor license transfer from Homeslate Sports Bar & Grille in Slatington.
The board can vote to approve a liquor license being transferred from outside the township. A liquor license transferred from within the municipality does not require board approval.
Residents from a 55-and-up residential community located behind Sheetz crowded the public hearing to oppose the transfer request.
Ellen Freeman, a lawyer for Sheetz, said 150 Sheetz locations in Pennsylvania already have liquor licenses. She said the plan for the local site included adding seating for up to 30 patrons near the entrance. She said under the plan, beer and wine would be available. Patrons would be limited to 12 beers and 4 bottles of wine. She said no alcohol consumption would be allowed on the premises.
She said although Sheetz is open 24 hours, alcohol would only be available 7-1:45 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9-1:45 a.m. Sundays.
She said every patron would be carded no matter the age and workers would go through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP), which would teach them to spot fake identifications and identify visibly intoxicated persons.
In response to a request from commissioners, Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. reported township police responded to 51 calls at Sheetz in the past year.
Board President Dennis Hower said he was concerned patrons would get six packs and drink them in the parking lot. Police Chief Michael Marks said anyone caught drinking on the property could be charged under the open container law. Freeman said Sheetz would be willing to increase security camera coverage and add “No Loitering” signs.
Neighbors said they already had problems with Sheetz and were afraid alcohol could make it worse.
Resident Thomas Smith said cars in the Sheetz parking lot “will crank down their windows and crank up the stereo.”
“The noise gets bad, and the homeowners call the police to disburse the crowds,” he said. “I don’t see any reason for Sheetz to sell beer when we are already having issues.”
Resident Linda Stewart said she was worried someone was going to get killed because of “drag racing on the road.”
Resident Anna Smith added, “There are gangs of people competing with their loud engines, and we are just trying to sleep through the night.”
Harakal also reported patrons of Sheetz have been found sitting on neighbors’ back porches and eating. Resident Frank Groller suggested Sheetz install a fence in the back.
“We need to have a serious conversation about security inside and outside for this not to be detrimental to any neighbor,” Philip Ginder, board vice president, said. “Sheetz needs to be a good neighbor.”
Also at the meeting, the board approved a noise ordinance to restrict unnecessary noise between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.