In the four years since the failed referendum, many community leaders and residents have taken it upon themselves to dive deeper than ever into the alcohol issue. Countless hours of research, networking, consultation, and hard work has resulted in a renewed confidence and passion behind the push to end the prohibition era dry laws and pursue new economic development and growth in Bellevue. Yet, it appears the naysayers have done little more than dig out the old signs and rehash the same tired and misleading argument that helped them scare just enough people to score an extremely slim margin of victory four years ago.
Those of us supporting the referendum point to the many amazing benefits to voting yes, such as:
- unprecedented potential to attract to Bellevue some of the amazing destination restaurants saturating the Pittsburgh metro region
- an economic boost to our existing businesses to stem from the additional foot traffic
- a much needed increase of tax revenue to the borough and school district without increasing tax rates
- new reasons for young professionals and families to invest and live in our community.
Meanwhile, the naysayers offer nothing but fear: NO BARS IN BELLEVUE!!!
What if that argument didn’t exist? What if we could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that nuisance bars WILL NOT breed like rabbits and take over the Bellevue business district?
Well, guess what….we can.
Throughout the past four years, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, in conjunction with many communities around the Commonwealth, have developed a new community development/safety measure called Conditional Licensing Agreements. As most residents and business owners know, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has numerous stipulations regulating the approval of retail liquor licenses. An establishment must fall within the quota guidelines for licenses in a local municipality. A potential licensee must have a minimum of 30 seats. The establishment must include a fully inspected and qualified restaurant style kitchen. The restaurant must be 300 feet away from schools, churches without prior approval. Each application for a license must go through a review/protest process prior to approval.
In spite of the litany of existing stipulations, many communities desired additional control to prevent undesirable establishments from popping up, this is how the PLCB came up with their Conditional Licensing Agreements.
Let’s say a relatively quiet community really doesn’t want an establishment with obnoxious music blaring past midnight. They could include music volume standards for certain days/hours as a condition for licensing in a CLA attached to that establishment.
Let’s say a particular business district is really interested in seeing a new, large destination restaurant setting up shop. They could include a minimum percentage of food sales they would allow as a condition for licensing in a CLA attached to that establishment.
Let’s say an area with a history of crime wanted to be sure a restaurant seeking a retail liquor license didn’t contribute negatively to the community’s crime problem. They could include a requirement that the restaurant’s management submit regular reports to the local police department or code enforcement office concerning their alcohol sales and any critical incidents.
Any community can attach just about any stipulations they want within a conditional licensing agreement with any establishment pursuing a retail liquor license.
This is the final nail in the coffin to the “no bars” argument. Not only does the PLCB not offer any “bar” liquor licenses, Bellevue can now fully restrict and fully enforce its own conditions upon each and every application for a license within borough limits. With each license being up for renewal every two years, if any establishment were to violate the conditional licensing agreement, their license would not be renewed.
Communities utilizing conditional licensing agreements are seeing amazing results of their efforts. Lawrenceville United is the poster child for making the most positive use of these agreements. Anyone who has been around Pittsburgh for more than a decade knows what Lawrenceville used to be like. However, throughout the past decade Lawrenceville United has cast a vision and made use of tools such as these CLAs to not only clean up their community but make it one of the most sought out communities in all of Pittsburgh!
If you have any questions or still want to hear about these Conditional Licensing Agreements from the PLCB themselves, please come to the Town Hall Meeting put on by A Better Bellevue on Thursday, May 7 at 7:00pm.
Bellevue has so much opportunity for investment. There are amazing spaces just waiting for development. However we will never see the kind of development we desperately need if we don’t pass the alcohol referendum. Four years ago the referendum failed. In the past four years Bellevue has struggled along on its usual path of economic stagnation while numerous communities around us see unprecedented growth. Let’s not make the same mistake a second time. Let’s put Bellevue on the map as THE place to live, worship, and shop in Pittsburgh.