Cherry Hill considers relaxing a restriction in its liquor ordinance

Posted: January 29, 2013

Cherry Hill is considering lifting a restriction that prevents grocery stores from selling alcohol as it prepares to auction off a rare liquor license.

Township officials say they are weighing whether to amend a rule that requires liquor-distribution licenses to be issued only to stand-alone stores after evaluating the policies of other towns that have no such restriction.

"We want Cherry Hill to remain economically competitive," said Erin Gill, township director of policy and planning.

Gill said Friday the township expected that eliminating the restriction would increase competition for the liquor license, which it plans to auction off on Feb. 12 for a minimum bid of $425,000.

But the township may delay the auction - the first it has scheduled in at least 15 years - for up to 30 days to allow more time to write an ordinance modifying the rule, Gill said.

A proposed ordinance striking the rule without setting new restrictions could have gone before Township Council for approval Monday night.

But the township wants to incorporate certain controls, including ways to guard against underage drinking, Gill said.

Restrictions could include requiring grocery stores to sell alcohol in a separate area, Gill said.

"The mayor and council are not going to do anything that would not be in the best interest of residents," she said.

Linda Dombrowski, director of the Cherry Hill Alliance on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said she had been in contact with Gill about the proposal, which she said the township had independently decided to revise.

"We want to get it right, and we want to make sure that there are a lot of safeguards for the community," Dombrowski said.


Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com.

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