Lehigh Valley

Palmer residents protest Sheetz liquor license transfer

PALMER TWP., Pa. - More than a dozen Palmer residents turned out for Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting to vigorously protest a liquor license transfer request by the Sheetz market located at the corner of Easton-Nazareth Highway and Kingston Road in the township.

Upon the advice of Township Solicitor Charles Bruno, the supervisors agreed to make no immediate decision instead opting for further details from Sheetz personnel and an attorney memorandum and therefore tabled the matter until their Nov. 28 meeting.

Residents complained for over an hour about how Sheetz, currently unable to control the flagrant loitering and frequent nuisance disturbances ongoing for the last several years at the Palmer location, now could qualify for a license to sell takeout beer and wine packages and a maximum of two single-serving drinks per customer daily.

In the Lehigh Valley, Sheetz's Bethlehem location on Schoenersville Road has already secured a liquor license and the Allentown location is also in application along with Palmer, according to Pittsburgh attorney Mark Kozar, whose firm Flaherty and O'Hara specializes in alcoholic beverage law.

He noted although Sheetz's sales are primarily from food, beer and wine are secondary. He predicted within five years almost all convenience stores will be selling alcoholic beverages. Currently 35 Sheetz stores sell alcohol and another 30 are in application for liquor licenses. The convenience store would sell alcohol until 1:45 a.m. daily.

Supervisor Chair Dave Colver asked what assurances would Sheetz make to deal with a host of problems at the Route 248 location which has been plagued with late night speeding cars, biker noise, and drag racing among frequent neighborhood disturbances and other alleged criminal activity. 

Palmer police Chief Larry Palmer reported although Sheetz fully cooperates with his department, there have been 207 reported incidents over the last four years at the Palmer location averaging one incident per week.

Palmer admitted considering the frequent incidents at the location, the store most likely should not be granted a liquor license.

"We don't need the consumption at Sheetz," he commented.

The supervisors questioned not only the frequent "nuisance disturbances" but also Sheetz security, underage carding efforts, and alcohol response management training programs. They also asked why more company executives and department heads did not appear before them.

"Sheetz is the gold standard in security," Kozar responded.

During the meeting, resident Lee Cooper presented a jar of monetary donations from area residents to Kelly and Paul Raymondo, whose 12-year-old daughter Emma was fatally hit by a car as she was walking home from Sheetz on Sept. 22. 

"This is a residential area, there are homes here," Raymondo stated, who added she lives only four houses away from the store.

Palmer said the results of the investigation into Emma Raymondo's death revealed the car that hit her was not leaving the convenience store and the driver was not under the influence of alcohol. He said the investigation results will be made public shortly.

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