New Kensington Council approves liquor license transfer for Sheetz
New Kensington Council on Monday approved the transfer of a liquor license for a Sheetz in the city despite the objections of several residents, including one armed with a petition.
A remodeling of the convenience store and gas station on Freeport Street will include an addition with seating for 30 to meet the requirements of a restaurant liquor license, said Mark Kozar, an attorney with Flaherty & O’Hara, a law firm representing the Altoona-based chain.
If approved by the state Liquor Control Board, the license will be transferred into New Kensington from New Stanton.
Three residents spoke against the proposed transfer during a public hearing held before council’s vote.
One woman said she had a problem with people being able to buy beer at the same place they buy gas.
Stacey Mazzotta, owner of nearby Stella’s Restaurant, said she was concerned that Sheetz selling beer could hurt small businesses in the area.
“We do not need any more vacant buildings in our area,” she said.
Mazzotta presented council with a petition she said contained 200 signatures of those opposed to the liquor license transfer.
Kozar objected to it as hearsay. City Solicitor Anthony Vigilante said council couldn’t take the petition as accurate but could accept it and decide how much weight to give it.
He noted that the state’s rewrite of the liquor code in 2016 changed the purpose of the code to promote competition and convenience, which are helpful to consumers by driving down prices, increasing selection and improving service.
Construction would start after the Liquor Control Board approved the transfer and take less than three months, Kozar said. The store will remain open during the renovation.
The store would sell beer to go from a “beer cave,” which now contains pop, Kozar said.
Beer would be for sale from 7 a.m. to 1:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and start at 9 a.m. Sundays.
Kozar said Sheetz prefers not to have people drink beer in its stores — it is not advertised or promoted with drink specials or happy hours and is not a substantial part of its business.
But he said state law requires the option of on-premises consumption, Kozar said. Sheetz would limit it with a two-drink maximum per person, per day.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .