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Westmoreland

Sheetz wants to sell beer, wine at 2 North Huntingdon stores

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, April 5, 2018, 5:18 p.m.

Sheetz is hoping to sell beer and wine at two of its three North Huntingdon stores near the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Route 30, a company representative said.

The Altoona-based chain wants to expand its stores along Route 30 at North Thompson Lane, east of the turnpike entrance, and at Ronda Court, west of the turnpike, so that it can add 30 seats to fulfill seating requirements for restaurant liquor licenses, said Brian Dinges, senior real estate site selector for the company.

Dinges told the North Huntingdon Planning Commission this week that the company plans to add 400 to 500 square feet to its stores to accommodate the seating. The interior expansion will eliminate eight outdoor seats at the Ronda Court site, he said.

Sheetz is not planning to expand its store for liquor sales at the intersection of Carpenter Lane and Route 30, which is near Norwin's Stewartsville Elementary School on Carpenter Lane, Dinges said.

The company is remodeling stores across the state to create 30 indoor seats to comply with the state liquor laws for beer and wine sales, Dinges said.

He told planning commission members that Sheetz can't prohibit on-site consumption of beer, but drinking wine at stores is banned. Staff are to monitor customer drinking and undergo training through the state-required Responsible Alcohol Management Program.

“We have very strict operational standards on our on-site consumption,” Dinges said.

Sheetz likely will present the planning commission with plans for the projects in the near future. Ultimately, the changes will have to be approved by township commissioners. If the plans are approved, construction will take about four weeks.

Sheetz spokesman Nick Ruffner did not respond to a request for a comment.

Before it can sell alcohol at the two North Huntingdon stores, Sheetz must acquire the licenses.

North Huntingdon is over the state's quota for liquor licenses – only 10 for its population of 30,000 – so any entity transferring a license into the municipality must get approval from township commissioners, said Shawn Kelly, a LCB spokesman. That approval is necessary before the LCB would grant the transfer of the liquor license, Kelly said.

Sheetz has 80 restaurant-liquor licenses in Pennsylvania, but only two active licenses in Westmoreland County — Murrysville and Ligonier Township. A license for a Lower Burrell store is pending, according to LCB records.

Sheetz has said it wants a liquor license for its store on Ligonier Street in Latrobe. City police Chief James Bumar, however, has raised objections to the sale of liquor at that site.

Latrobe council will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday to consider Sheetz's proposal to transfer a restaurant liquor license from a Pizza Hut on Route 30 in Unity to the Sheetz store in the city.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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