Lehigh Valley

Hanover rejects Turkey Hill liquor license transfer

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - The Hanover Township Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night rejected the transfer of a liquor license into a Turkey Hill convenience store. The vote was 3-1 with Chairman John Diacogiannis dissenting. Vice Chairman Mark Tanczos recused himself from the vote.

The Northampton County legislative body rejected the motion on three grounds: first, a lack of supervision over potential sales. Second, awarding a liquor license to the convenience store would be detrimental to health and welfare of the township's residents and finally, the density of existing businesses already holding liquor licenses compared to the township's population.

The Turkey Hill is located at 6020 Sterner's Way, which is at the intersection of Route 512. The store includes a gas station.

In voting "no," Supervisor Stephen Salvensen said he was not thrilled at the prospect of part-time help monitoring the purchase and consumption of alcohol at the gas station through the entire hours of potential alcohol sales. He added it was not in the best interests of the residents of Hanover Township to approve the transfer.

Supervisor John Nagle concurred with most of Salvensen's points and added that "it comes down to common sense" as to whether or not the township wanted to encourage alcohol sales at a "destination" business where people are purchasing gasoline for the purpose of operating a motor vehicle.

He said the rationale behind doing such "defies logic" and was "just ridiculous."

"It is literally like throwing gasoline on the fire," Nagle said. In conclusion, he said approving the transfer "would be against the health and welfare of our citizens."

Supervisor Michael Prendeville also agreed with Salvensen and Nagle's comments and noted the density of retail establishments serving alcohol in the township was already sufficient. Further, he said the potential for harm that could materialize by approving the transfer far outweighed any benefits the township could derive from approving it.

Diacogiannis said that he "absolutely understood" his colleagues concerns, but said he looked at it "from a 40,000-foot level." From the lofty view, he noted the Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Wolf have already approved the concept and was updating "antiquated" liquor laws in the commonwealth. As such, he said "this decision doesn't really belong" at the municipal level and that idea supervisors were even voting on it was, in itself, part of the "antiquated law" that was in the process of being reformed or was reformed.

As such, Diacogiannis cast the lone approving vote.

During a hearing on April 25, attorney Mark Kozar, representing the Turkey Hill parent company, said a series of significant changes last year to the state's liquor laws allowed Turkey Hill to make the request.

Gov. Wolf signed a liquor reform bill in June 2016.

At the hearing, Tanczos recused himself  and then testified against the license transfer. In his testimony, Tanczos noted he has been a resident of the township since 1986, and is the second generation owner of a beer distributor, started by his father in 1960.

In articulating his argument against the transfer, Tanczos said the liquor code by statue grants one license per 3,000 residents. Given the township's population of just under 11,000 people, that means the township should have about three licenses. However Tanczos noted the township already has eight licenses.

In other business Tuesday night, supervisors approved an ordinance restricting a number of evasive species of bamboo. The vote was 4-1 with Diacogiannis providing the dissenting vote.

In explaining his opposition, Diacogiannis said the ordinance was "an intrusion of individual property rights" and that if neighbors had an issue with one another it was civil matter, not a governmental matter.

"When do we end having an ordinance for every single thing?" he questioned.

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