Neighbors oppose beer sales at Lenape Pizza

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Concerns about parking, under-age drinking aired during license-transfer hearing

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Lenape Pizza in Pocopson would like to start selling beer, but neighbors oppose the idea.

POCOPSON — Pizza and beer might seem like a natural combination, but neighbors of Lenape Pizza are telling township supervisors “no” when it comes to having beer sales at a township pizzeria.

Monday night, the township’s board of Supervisors held a special hearing to consider an application to transfer a “Type E” license — one that allows the sale of beer and malt beverages — to Lenape Pizza. About a dozen residents attended to protest the transfer.

The Board of Supervisors opted to further deliberate before deciding whether to approve the transfer — and are expected to announce a decision on the license transfer at its June 13 meeting.

According to Jefim Faktor, a partner in ZFG, Inc. the company that owns the eatery, they plan to expand seating, which he says is currently 24, to the minimum required by the state Liquor Control Board, 30, by reworking the layout and adding some counter seating. That issue — and the amount of available parking and how much sewer capacity is available to the establishment — seemed to be the primary concerns of the supervisors in approving the transfer.

ZFG’s attorney, Holly Setzler, suggested that those were issues best handled during the process of getting a new certificate of occupancy for the pizzeria, rather than trying to tie them to the license transfer.

“If we don’t meet the criteria, my clients won’t be buying the license,” she said.

Faktor said the hope is to grow the business, which has operated there for six years (and was previously the site of The Bistro, also a pizzeria) and better serve local customers.

“We think it will be more convenient for people to grab a six-pack and a pizza and enjoy a Friday night movie at home,” he said. “We don’t expect any major changes and we’ll have normal business hours.”

While he said about 80% of his business is delivery, Faktor said, in accordance with LCB rules, no beer will be available for delivery.

Supervisors also wanted to make sure that the hours of operation would not be expanded beyond the current hours, with the operation open no later than 10 p.m.

Still, neighbors were not swayed, bringing a petition with approximately 80 signatures opposing the license transfer. Some expressed concerns about attracting under-age drinking, with no enforcement options beyond the State Police, while others noted there were existing problems with vehicles illegally parking along Denton Hollow Road.

Supervisor Lauressa McNemar asked how the owners will handle things if drinking on premise or in the parking lot becomes a nuisance.

Faktor said he would call 911 and noted that he and his partners have a good relationship with the neighboring Birmingham Township police and State Police. Both Birmingham and State Police cars can often be seen in the parking lot of the establishment during lunch hours, as officers often eat there. Faktor said he would also be improving his security system, adding cameras and a direct link to local police.

Parking was questioned, as the additional seating requirements mean more parking must be created as well. Faktor said that the landlord of the property planned to add parking behind the building, which would be used for employees of the businesses in the complex, which include an insurance office and a dental office. With that and by the addition of extra spaces in front, Faktor said they should be able to meet the requirements on parking.

“How do you expect to accomodate the landscaping trucks that park and take up two or three spaces,” asked Mary Soloway, a neighbor of the property. “I’m in and out during the day, and see it four or five times a day, that they’re parking on Denton Hollow Road by the stop sign, and blocking one lane.”

Faktor said this was the first he was hearing of the complaint, but suggested a “no parking” sign could be put up — although the township has no way to enforce parking violations, as State Police are not permitted to write tickets on local ordinances.

Other residents expressed worries about minors potentially buying beer. Faktor said that he would comply with LCB rules and not allow any minors on the premises without an adult.

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