Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, July 22, 2019

Board OKs liquor license for Exxon

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 by Kathy Lauer-Williams Special to The Press in Local News

MacArthur Road business will have seating for 30 patrons, beer to go

Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a liquor license transfer for an Exxon station at its meeting July 8.

The gas station and convenience store at 2724 MacArthur Road will sell only beer, said Matthew Anderson, attorney for Dunne Manning Stores, which owns the property. It is the third liquor license request that has come before the board since the beginning of the year.

One resident opposed the transfer.

“We don’t need any more places to get liquor in the township,” said LoriAnn Fehnel during the public hearing.

In May, commissioners approved a liquor license transfer for J&C Crab Juicy Seafood, which plans to open in August in the Whitehall Square shopping center, 2180 MacArthur Road.

In April, commissioners denied a request for a liquor license for Sheetz gas station and convenience store, 5001 MacArthur Road, after residents from a 55-and-up residential community located behind Sheetz opposed the transfer, complaining of noise and loitering. Sheetz is appealing the township’s decision in Lehigh County court.

Fehnel expressed concern about security at the Exxon station once it is selling beer.

Anderson said the store had recently installed more security cameras both inside and outside at the site.

The license is a restaurant license — which requires the store to have seating for 30 patrons — and it will undergo a small renovation to the interior, Anderson said.

The company won the liquor license at an auction in March. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board periodically holds auctions for retired liquor licenses, and Anderson said it is difficult to get a license in Whitehall.

He said the company has gas stations in 10 states and has liquor licenses at 120 locations, five of which are in Pennsylvania.

“The business model is to-go beer sales,” he said.

Because of the PLCB requirements, the Exxon will allow beer consumption on the premise with a two-beer limit. Anderson said the “corporate policy is 100 percent carding” for anyone buying beer.

Beer sales will be 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday. He said the location is a “very commercial area” with no residents nearby.

Also at the meeting, the issue of fireworks was discussed.

During public comment, resident Joni Tedesco held up a plastic bag containing numerous paper tubes from spent fireworks she found in her yard.

She said she collected them around 10 p.m. June 25 when fireworks were set off within 150 feet of her home. She said the explosions rattled her window, jolted her out of her chair and caused her “dogs to go crazy.”

Although aerial fireworks such as Roman candles and bottle rockets were made legal to purchase in Pennsylvania in 2017, state law says it is illegal to set off fireworks within 150 feet of an occupied structure. In March, the township also passed an ordinance that prohibits setting off fireworks between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the township, in addition to the state’s restrictions.

Fehnel asked the board to consider amending the ordinance to expand the time restriction.

Board President Dennis Hower agreed there is a need to look at the issue.

“I thought 6 a.m. was sufficient, but at 6:30 a.m. Friday, they were shooting off fireworks in my neighborhood,” he said.

Police Chief Michael Marks said police recently received 15 complaints about fireworks but issued no citations because they have to catch the individual in the act of setting them off to issue a citation.