Lower Makefield voters will have the choice to make their township a “wet” municipality this upcoming April. A petition to add the question to the ballot in Lower Makefield has raised enough signatures.
An estimated 900 residents signed the petition over a three week period to add the decision. Voters will be able to choose yes, or no, and whichever receives a majority of the vote will prevail.
Currently, food-related businesses in the township are unable to acquire liquor licenses. Customers must bring their own beer to restaurants like DeLorenzo’s, and are unable to purchase beer at grocery stores like McCaffrey’s.
Local officials joined forces with Lower Makefield businesses in January to field a petition to get the question on the primary ballot. State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, State Rep. Perry Warren, and McCaffrey’s Food Markets owner Jim McCaffrey pushed for the process last month.
“Lower Makefield Township voters will now be able to vote on April 28 to allow liquor licenses to be considered in appropriately zoned areas of the township. Under state law a maximum of 11 licenses would be allowed in the township,” Santarsiero said. “This will help keep the commercial areas vibrant going forward.”
McCaffrey hopes to obtain one of the licenses for the location in Lower Makefield. He referenced the Newtown location as an example of customers enjoying the “convenience.”
While officials have been trying to get the question on the ballot for a few years, previous attempts failed. The difference came not from more people signing the petition, but from lowering the number needed.
Santarsiero facilitated a change in the law to mandate petitions for select questions only needing 500 signatures. Volunteers managed to reach the threshold within a single week.
While some are worried about potential negative effects from selling alcohol in the township, Santarsiero is not convinced. He pointed to nearby stores in Newtown already selling spirits, and people driving to Yardley Borough for the pub experience.
If voters choose to make Lower Makefield a “wet town,” it would lift a ban imposed in 1949.