Bellevue moves closer to liquor application approval

Bellevue Council inched closer to allowing a new restaurant to obtain a liquor license Tuesday when officials agreed to stop intervening in the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's application process if the business owners will sign one of two pending agreements.

Because 202 Hometown Tacos seeks a liquor license in excess of the borough's state mandated quota, it must have permission of Bellevue Council before the LCB will consider its application. As they have with the first two “R” liquor licenses granted since Bellevue gave up its dry status four years ago, Bellevue officials want special agreements in place to keep the business from becoming a nuisance bar. There are two avenues for reaching that goal: the business could sign off on a Conditional Licensing Agreement (CLA), the terms of which would be enforced by the LCB; and/or a Good Neighbor Agreement, which would contain similar conditions but be enforceable by the borough itself through unique penalties that could include revocation of the restaurant's occupancy permit.

Last month council approved a motion that indicated the borough would allow the license application to move forward contingent upon execution of the Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA). That agreement remains in draft form, however, as council members got their first look at various versions of the proposed contract Tuesday morning, with more revisions planned, according to solicitor Matt Racunas.

Council therefore voted to extend the deadline for the GNA approval to March 26, a measure approved in a 5-3 vote with council members Anthony DiTullio, Jodi Hause, Val Pennington, Linda Woshner and Tom Hrynda in favor, and Tom Fodi, Grant Saylor and Glenn Pritchard opposed. Anya Pikul was absent.

Council then approved a motion to have the borough withdraw its intervention in the LCB application process once the business owners have agreed to the same CLA terms as were put in place with the owners of the first bar in Bellevue. That motion also was approved in a 5-3 vote, with Fodi, Hause, Saylor, Pritchard and Hrynda in favor, and DiTullio, Pennington and Woshner opposed.

Saylor said that he would work to eliminate some of the regulations in the GNA that already are covered by the LCB and even the Allegheny County Health Department. “We don't have to enforce these at the local level,” he said.

While most of the initial version of the GNA was a repetition of state regulations, the draft agreement does include a few unique restrictions, such as requiring the bar and restaurant to close every day by 1 a.m., and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in any outdoor areas between 3 and 5 p.m. on weekdays while school is in session. The GNA draft also makes the business's occupancy permit contingent upon compliance with the terms of the GNA.