Let’s all go to the Moorestown Mall and have a drink

Get ready for liquor at the Moorestown Mall. Township voters overwhelmingly passed both referendum questions Tuesday night for the allowance of liquor to be sold in the township and be restricted only to the Moorestown Mall.

Voters approved the first referendum question — the allowance of liquor licenses to be sold in the township — by an unofficial count of 4,138 to 2,750 according to Moorestown Township representatives.

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Voters approved the second referendum question — restricting the sale of liquor licenses to fine dining establishments at the Moorestown Mall — by an unofficial count of 3,750 to 2,876 according to the township. All results can be viewed at the township website here.

It was a complete turnaround from the last time Moorestown residents had a chance to vote on the allowance of liquor in the township. In 2007 voters overwhelmingly defeated the sale of liquor licenses by more than 2,000 votes at the polls.

This time around representatives from the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust — which owns the Moorestown Mall — campaigned vigorously since the summer to garner votes. In September, PREIT President Joe Coradino said that if the referendums were passed PREIT would purchase four of the possible six liquor licenses at a purchase price of $1 million each for a total of $4 million.

It’s all in a plan being formulated by PREIT to try and reinvigorate the Moorestown Mall, according to PREIT representatives. In addition to liquor sales, Coradino has said that PREIT will construct a 12-screen movie theater for the mall.

The referendums survived a lawsuit filed earlier in the summer by a Moorestown resident and lawyer to bar them from the November general election ballots. William Cox submitted a lawsuit claiming that PREIT did not wait the necessary five years to resubmit a referendum question to be placed on the ballot.

Judge Ronald Bookbinder ruled in favor of the defendants, citing that the 2011 referendum questions on the ballot were consistent with previous decisions put forth by the Legislature and Appellate Divisions. Bookbinder said that if he ruled otherwise, he would be overruling the Legislature and Appellate Division, which include former Gov. Alfred E. Driscoll.

Cox appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the Appellate Division within less than a week.

A full election story will be available Wednesday.

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