Windsor Township voters appear to approve liquor referendum


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Residents of Windsor Township apparently can say "cheers" to the majority of voters who on Tuesday voted to pass a liquor referendum added to the ballot during the primary elections.

But the successful ballot measure might be largely symbolic until some liquor licenses are freed up for the area: Restaurateurs won't be able to purchase a new license from the state's Liquor Control Board because the number of licensed establishments exceeds the county quota.

The measure — which had nearly 70 percent support with three of four precincts reporting — will allow for businesses in Windsor Township to obtain a liquor license, giving them the opportunity to sell alcohol for consumption on their premises.

In February, the township started a petition to get the referendum on the ballot and the drive garnered 1,177 signatures, more than the 998 that was needed but just under the 1,200 officials had hoped for.

And the momentum from the drive carried over to election day.

Public opinion: Those who showed up at the polls in favor of the referendum said they hope it will mean more restaurants in the township.

"It may help some of the existing restaurants and hopefully it'll attract more commercial businesses here," said Allen King after he cast his vote Tuesday morning for the referendum. "A lot of places that want to locate here are scared off because they can't sell alcohol here. I think we should have it, all the other surrounding townships have it, let's get it here and keep the revenue."

Some residents expressed concern for the change in atmosphere that could result from alcohol sales within the township.

"We're a very small community," said resident Judy Long. "I wish we could stipulate who could get (licenses.) Some of these businesses are right near neighborhoods and developments, it's not fair to people who have lived here and will have to adjust to the noise it will bring."

Jeff Holtzinger, who supported the referendum, disagreed.

"I know people are worried there will be people who are going to drink too much and that it will change the feeling around here," he said. "But the kind of places we hope this could attract would be more interested in selling a fancy glass of wine or two than a ton of shots."

Getting licenses: Many restaurant owners said they'll begin the procedure of obtaining a license now that the measure has passed, though they have another hurdle to overcome should they choose to move ahead in that process.

Restaurateurs won't be able to purchase a new license from the state's Liquor Control Board since the number of licensed establishments exceeds the county quota, which is based on one license for every 3,000 residents in a county.

There are 175 restaurant and eating place licenses — a restaurant license allows a proprietor to serve liquor, wine and beer, while the latter allows its holder to sell just beer — which exceeds York County's quota of 144, said Stacy Kriedman, spokeswoman for the liquor control board.

Ultimately, the only way a restaurant in Windsor Township can get a license is to purchase one from an establishment located in an outside municipality. The township would also have to sign off on the transfer.

Others: Windsor Township is one of many municipalities to ditch its dry status in recent years.

Voters in Dover Township approved liquor sales three years ago and Dillsburg and Dallastown voters approved the measure in more recent elections, though no restaurants in Dillsburg or Dallastown have obtained licenses since being given the option to sell alcohol.

— Reach Jessica Schaldebeck at Staff writer Greg Gross contributed to this report.