Lift of ban of early alcohol sales fails in Palmyra Council vote

Ordinance was brought to the council by business owners wishing to capitalize on Sunday, Oct. 28, Eagles game

By: STEPHEN FINN

The Sun

On Sunday, Oct. 28, the Eagles will face the Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium. Local watering holes like Curran’s on Broad Street and Park Tavern on Park Avenue, where the game will be broadcast, were hoping to get an early start on alcohol sales for the special occasion.

A controversial ordinance that would have allowed these businesses to begin selling alcohol early for the game was struck down at a meeting of Palmyra’s Township Council on Monday, Oct. 15.

The proposed ordinance would amend the current code of the borough that prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sundays before 12:30 p.m. The Eagles game is set to start at 9:30 a.m., which was the time the ordinance sought to extend hours of sale.

During public portions of the meeting, the council heard from a number of citizens concerned about what the ordinance could mean for people who may be attending church during the proposed extended hours.

Resident Tracey Jamerson was first to speak out against the ordinance.

“I want to let your honor and the council know that I am against the ordinance. I think that having drinking going on with the traffic during church hours is not a good idea,” said Jamerson. “Even though you may think people will walk or take the light rail to these establishments I can guarantee you that the alcohol at the liquor stores will have more vehicular traffic.”

Resident Jean Butler echoed Jamerson’s concerns and wasn’t shy about voicing her opposition.

“To me it’s a matter of disrespect to ask the people that live in that area, the people that worship in that area, the people who use the area of Curran’s and Park Tavern, to endure from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. people coming in to watch the Eagles simply because the Eagles are going to be in London,” said Butler. “Any other Sunday morning you’re not out there drinking at 9:30 in the morning. We have four churches in this area, they are worshipping at this time.”

Butler pointed out that church-goers would be walking with their children while the establishments in question were in operation. She expressed concerns for the safety of those children crossing the street, and that parking would be made more difficult for church attendees.

Mike Deffner was a singular voice of public support for the ordinance.

“I am in support of the ordinance for the sale of alcohol on this one occasion. I’m hoping that the council will be charitable this one time to allow a business to be open at this hour. I appreciate what you are doing for the local businesses,” said Deffner.

The council was divided on the issue.

Councilman Lew Yetter was first to speak and voiced his willingness to give the ordinance a try.

“I can’t see into the future and I don’t know how this is going to turn out. We’ve never done this before. There’s no precedent, we decide each case as it comes along,” said Yetter. “I would like to try it one time and see how it turns out. If people are a mess, if people are obnoxious and make fools of themselves then we’ll never do it again.”

Although he didn’t oppose the idea personally, Councilman Brandon Allmond was hesitant to cast a vote in favor of the ordinance.

“I’m not up here to vote personally. Legislatively I believe this is a slippery slope to making adjustments to ordinances here and there. I’m just looking ahead and I don’t think that’s the best case for us making an exception now, not just for this ordinance but down the line.”

The time came for a vote, and the council was split down the center. Three members voted “yes,” and three voted “no.” When a vote comes to a tie like this, it is passed to the mayor.

“I was elected to represent everyone in Palmyra and I know everyone has very strong opinions and everyone is very passionate in their own way,” said Mayor Michelle Arnold before casting the deciding vote.

“Because of the trust that the people of Palmyra have put in me I am voting ‘no,’” said Arnold.

The decision was met with cheers from the public and will ensure anyone planning an early start to their game day partying will be homebound the morning of Oct. 28.