The COASTAL STAR
Town Commission rejects liquor store in Plaza del Mar
By Dan Moffett
Manalapan town commissioners say they’re looking forward to Publix’s opening a supermarket at Plaza del Mar this summer. But they’re not so excited about that long-awaiting arrival that they’re willing to allow Publix to open a wine and liquor store next door. On March 27 the commission denied a request by the supermarket chain and Plaza del Mar landlord Kitson & Partners to sell liquor and wine in a 1,500-square-foot unit roughly 30 feet west of the Publix building. “I’m on the record supporting a Publix as long as there was no liquor store,” Vice Mayor Peter Isaac said. “It would be 200 yards from the public beach and that gives me great concern.” Isaac said he would be willing to support a store that sold only fine wines. But spirits? “I would be absolutely against hard liquor.” The commission agreed. Commissioners Clark Appleby and Jack
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Doyle voted with Coquille Villas also Isaac in denying oppose the liquor A liquor store invites a the Publix request. store. certain crowd. Commissioner Mayor Keith Hank Siemon You’re asking for trouble, and Waters argued that dissented, saying it doesn’t fit in with the morals the commission he believed “it was should hold off of our town. a little bit early” to voting until it had — Town Commissioner more information make the decision Clark Appleby and more input and that it would be better if the from constituents. commission waited The mayor noted until the supermarket gets established. that the Eau and two restaurants in the The new Publix will carry beer and plaza currently serve wine and liquor. “We fight a difficult fight here in that wine. Mayor Pro Tem Simone Bonutti and it is an approved use for this space,” Commissioner Monica Oberting were Waters said. State law prohibits any alcohol absent. The issue of the liquor store first consumption on the beach, and arose two years ago when Publix made violations of that statute are what its initial pitch to the town. However, opponents fear most — that spring commissioners essentially tabled the breakers, tourists and partygoers from proposal to concentrate on getting across the bridge will show up on the the supermarket’s construction issues beach with vodka bottles in brown bags. Appleby argued that there is a resolved. proven statistical correlation between Representatives of the Eau Palm higher availability of alcohol in an area Beach Resort & Spa and residents of La
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and higher crime rates. He said the liquor store proposal does not satisfy requirements that special zoning exceptions protect “public health, safety, morals and general welfare” of the town. “A liquor store invites a certain crowd,” Appleby said. “You’re asking for trouble, and it doesn’t fit in with the morals of our town.” Town Attorney Keith Davis said it’s up to Publix and Kitson now to decide whether they want to contest the commission’s denial. In other business, Town Manager Linda Stumpf said architect Mark Marsh is finishing plans for redesigning the Town Hall chambers. The plan is to reconfigure the room with an expanded dais that allows commissioners and officials to sit at the same level and more easily engage each other. Stumpf said the renovation, which is expected to begin this summer, would force the commission to hold one or two of its meeting in the Town Library. Ú
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