Ephrata Twp. supervisors debate Sheetz liquor license

By on November 21, 2018

The Sheetz store at 891 E. Main St. in Ephrata Township is applying for a liquor license to sell beer for on premises consumption and wine to go at the store.

Since no Ephrata Township license was available for purchase, Sheetz Inc. purchased a restaurant liquor license in Lancaster city and plans to move the license into Ephrata Township, after getting the approval of the township supervisors.

The supervisors agreed to a hearing date, and if the liquor license transfer is approved, it will be the first time beer and wine will be available for sale in the store. The license is being transferred from the Carboni Corporation, 12 N. Queen St., Lancaster.

In reply to a letter from Mark Kozar of Flaherty and O’Hara of Pittsburgh, attorneys for Sheetz Inc., the public hearing will be held during the Dec. 4 township supervisors’ meeting, beginning at 7 p.m.

Per state regulations, a public hearing must be held within 45 days of the receipt of the request.

A hearing is required by the state’s liquor code to issue a resolution approving the transfer by Sheetz of the restaurant liquor license from outside Ephrata Township to within the confines of the township.

“It’s a different type of procedure when it’s outside the boundaries of the municipality,” said Tony Schimaneck, the township’s solicitor, regarding the purchase of the liquor license.

The store has a sit-down restaurant area able to seat more than 30 customers, and therefore, qualifies for a restaurant liquor license, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code, Kozar said in the letter.

In order to own and operate its restaurant in Ephrata Township, Sheetz must secure a liquor license, Kozar wrote.

The hearing will allow a Sheetz representative to describe the proposed business as well as to allow township residents to express an opinion on the license transfer.

Kozar wrote that the Sheetz store will continue to be “family friendly” and the license approval would be a “positive attribute” to Ephrata Township.

For future requests of this sort, Township Manager Steve Sawyer suggested that that Solicitor Schimaneck look into how the township might draft an ordinance on ways the supervisors could reply appropriately to deal with similar requests.

“I think there will be more in the future,” Sawyer said. “Giant Foods is also in the process of getting a license (via the parent company), although they’re not selling beer or wine yet.”

A liquor license may cost more than $100,000.

The Sheetz store would be selling beer and wine, but no hard liquor, much the same as Weis Markets, Sawyer said.

Sheetz restaurants have been pushing to have their stores sell beer and wine across Pennsylvania and currently have about 25 stores that do sell liquor, Schimaneck said.

Sawyer asked the board what position they wanted to take on this request.

“Could we turn it down?” asked supervisor J. Tyler Zerbe.

Sawyer said the supervisors could turn down the request, which would mean a court hearing would follow.

“Other municipalities have turned them down, but Sheetz has been very proactive in appealing,” Schimaneck said.

The supervisors will also need to set a fee to cover the costs of the hearing process, said chairman Clark Stauffer.

In other business, the supervisors approved waivers for land development plans and storm water management plans for Harold Zimmerman and also approved a waiver of a land development plan for Erwin Zimmerman.

Harold Zimmerman will be constructing a 5,310 square foot building near Royer Road. The majority of the building will be used for storing hay and for housing horses, Sawyer told the supervisors. None of the neighbors have objected to the building, which is located to the rear of the property.

Erwin Zimmerman’s approval is regarding a home business along the 400 block of Brossman Road, where Zimmerman repairs excavating equipment.

Erwin Zimmerman will need to complete a storm water management plan.

On Erwin Zimmerman’s 68 acres, he has a shop and garage that will be enlarged 50 by 100 square feet.

Equipment for the business that is currently outside will be moved into the larger building, Sawyer said.

“It will definitely improve the appearance of the property,” Sawyer said.

Updating the Rail Trail bridge project, Sawyer said the bridge was two-third of the way across the Cocalico Creek, working toward the Warwick Township side, and the concrete deck should be finished within a week.

An agreement has been made between Gerry Horst of GRH Development and the township regarding the Autumn Hills Development. The two parties have agreed that 16 acres along the Cocalico Creek will be dedicated to the township for its MS4 Pollution Reduction Plan. Improvements for the rail trail and the parking lot location will also be incorporated into the township’s pollution reduction plan.

Marylouise Sholly is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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