Franklin residents vote to consider alcohol sales in township
By J. Chambless
Whether to allow alcohol sales in Franklin Township will be up to voters in May, after enough signatures were recently gathered to put the question on the ballot.
In an effort to improve amenities for residents and spur some revenue, the Board of Supervisors discussed the issue late last year, but faced a March 12 deadline to gather the required signatures of at least 558 registered voters. The footwork involved in going door to door was initially a daunting task.
While Board of Supervisors chairman John Auerbach said he was in favor of allowing alcohol sales, he realized that the task was a large one. “This issue has come to the attention of the board numerous times over the seven years I have served on the board,” he said this week. “The consensus of the boards, past and present, has been to remove the restriction on alcohol sales.
“I had serious doubts about gathering the 558 signatures required in the short time period required by Chester County Voter Services [Feb. 19 to March 12],” Auerbach added. “That time period is typically fraught with bad winter weather, not accommodating to door-to-door activity. One or two winter storms on the weekends available would have had a serious negative effect. On March 1, preceding a potential weekend of signature collection, weather forecast was snow, mixed precipitation and cold rain. At that point, I had somewhat less than 200 signatures. I was more than pessimistic and frankly thought the opportunity had passed us.”
The 34 volunteers who circulated the petition on foot, however, rose to the challenge. “By March 3, we had 358 signatures, and I then thought there was a chance of success,” Auerbach said. “The circulators worked on diligently and the total continued to increase. By March 4, we had 590 signatures and the total eventually grew to 666. I filed the petition with Chester County Voter Services on March 8.”
The petition was not an authorization of alcohol sales in the township, Auerbach emphasized. “The function of the petition was only to place the question on the ballot,” he said. “The question will be on the Primary Election ballot, on May 21. Registered Franklin Township voters will decide the issue by referendum ballot, an up or down vote. If not approved, the issue cannot be brought to the voters again for four years.”
Auerbach feels that a restaurant offering alcohol sales would be a benefit for residents who now have to travel outside of the township. “The primary benefit would be the facility, with some tax revenue as secondary benefit,” he said. “The increased value of a facility property would yield some real estate tax, and the employees would pay a 0.5 percent EIT.
“Some people were concerned about a neighborhood nuisance bar or some other undesirable drinking emporium,” he added. “There are several factors that would limit these types of facilities. The current cost of a liquor license is $500,000. This economic hurdle would make these facilities untenable. Additionally, there can only be one license in Franklin. A population of 3,000 people is required for each license, and Franklin only has 4,500.”
For updated township information, visit www.franklintownship.us.To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org