Fell Twp. Objects To Liquor License Transfer To Convenience Market

November 24, 2018

Fell Twp. Objects To Liquor License Transfer To Convenience Market

Fell Twp. supervisors are asking a judge to reverse the state Liquor Control Board’s decision that would allow the owner of a convenience market to sell alcohol.

Lakeshkumar Patel was granted permission in March to transfer a liquor license he purchased from Oak Street Express LLC, Scranton, to his business at 405 Main St., Simpson. The transfer will allow him to add alcohol sales to the market, which currently sells gasoline, food and other items.

Joseph O’Brien, attorney for the township, contends the transfer is against the public interest because the township already exceeds its quota for the number of licensed liquor establishments. At a hearing last year, the township also raised concerns that the LCB previously cited Patel for violations at two other businesses he owns. Two citations were for serving minors and one was for allowing a patron to take liquor outside the establishment.

An LCB hearing examiner recommended the transfer be approved because there were extenuating circumstances surrounding the violations and Patel took steps to address shortcomings that led to the citations. The board accepted the recommendation and approved the transfer March 14.

Patel was required to seek the township’s permission to transfer the license based on the state’s liquor code, which limits the number of liquor licenses each municipality can have dependent on population.

The township’s quota is one license, but it already has six establishments that sell alcohol. The other establishments are permitted to operate because they were in business before the creation of the quota system. The code also allows an existing license to be transferred, even if the municipality is over its quota.

If a new business wishes to transfer an existing license, the municipality must hold a hearing on the matter. In Patel’s case, his attorney, John Rodgers, said the township violated the liquor code because it rejected Patel’s request outright without holding a hearing. Under the code, that means the application is approved, he contends.

A hearing on the township’s appeal of the transfer approval is scheduled for Dec. 21 at 9:30 a.m. before Lackawanna County Judge Thomas Munley.

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