You'll be able to buy alcohol in more places in Delaware and Chester counties -- eventually

Philadelphia Inquirer |

--The people have spoken: They want more places to buy alcohol.

In Marple Township, Delaware County, and West Marlborough and Franklin townships in Chester County, voters who showed up for Tuesday's primary election replied with a resounding "Yes" to referendum questions about expanding their town's liquor laws.

In Marple, one of 12 completely or partially dry towns in Delaware County, more than 3,600 people answered the question on their ballots, and more than 2,300 of them voted "yes," according to Delaware County election results.

Previously, beer distributors and state stores were permitted in Marple, a township of nearly 24,000 people, but restaurants, grocery stores, and other locations couldn't sell liquor or beer, with the exception of a restaurant in a township-run country club, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

A Giant supermarket in the township's Broomall section had been instrumental in circulating a petition to get the referendum on the ballot, with a company spokesman saying they wanted to sell liquor at a future store in the area.

In Chester County, which has 20 completely or partially dry towns, residents of Franklin and West Marlborough townships may also soon have more options for imbibing.

About 78 percent of voters in Franklin, a township of more than 4,000, approved expanding liquor licenses, according to Chester County election results. In West Marlborough, a township of only 800, about 68 percent of voters (91 people) were in favor.

Since Prohibition, West Marlborough has allowed only the sale of liquor at retail stores, according to liquor control board data, and Franklin allowed the sale of retail liquor and beer. In the 1960s, Frankin residents voted to permit beer distributors, too.

The State Liquor Code requires a referendum be voted on, in any type of election, before a town can change its liquor laws. In order for a referendum to get on the ballot, residents must submit a petition with signatures equal to at least 25 percent of the highest vote cast for any office in town in the previous general election. The referendums appear on both Democratic and Republican ballots.

Since both Delaware and Chester counties are already over their liquor-license quotas (generally, one license per 3,000 residents, according to the liquor control board), residents shouldn't expect to see an immediate, noticeable effect from these referendums. If a business wants to sell liquor in one of these three municipalities, they'll likely have to get an existing license transferred from another establishment in their county.


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