Letters to the Editor 5-13-11


I am following with interest the spirited debate on the pros and cons of allowing alcohol sales in Bellevue restaurants. I personally do not particularly want to see corner type bars in Bellevue. Nor do I want to see Section 8 housing, furniture rental stores, check cashing establishments, discount cigarette stores and multiple dollar stores, but alas we seem to attract them all.

Businesses do come and go in Bellevue, but the cream usually rises to the top. If we frequent our classier businesses and police our streets and make wise decisions in our council meetings, I very much doubt if two or three restaurants with alcohol sales will signal Armageddon for Bellevue.

Sometimes you just have to have faith and common sense and take a chance. Remember, we already have alcohol sales in Bellevue via a beer distributor. Therefore I urge Bellevue residents to support additional alcohol licenses in Bellevue and to support the businesses that acquire them.

Jacki Lewan


I am writing to encourage the voters of Bellevue to vote no to the liquor sale referendum on Tuesday's ballot.

I think everyone agrees that there are many opportunities for improvement in Bellevue and that having a couple nice restaurants where you could have a glass of wine with your meal is one of those opportunities. Unfortunately, this referendum does not limit the liquor licenses to nice restaurants. Any establishment can apply to transfer a liquor license to Bellevue regardless of how much food they sell. They are merely required to have food available for sale.

We should not allow liquor sales in Bellevue until we are certain that they will be the type of liquor sales we want. We need to remove our rose-colored glasses and see what Bellevue could become if just one nuisance bar opens in Bellevue. It does not equate to a place where people want to Live, Worship and Shop.

I suggest that the appropriate process is to lobby the legislature to create a liquor license that actually applies to restaurants and only restaurants. Perhaps the solution would be a class of license based on the establishment having a certain percentage of food sales. Another possibility would be to simplify the process by which a community can shut down nuisance bars. This would not only benefit us but communities across the state.

Susan Winkler Nolan


The upcoming election on May 17 has certainly become interesting. Instead of wanting to hear what the candidates have to say or what they stand for, it seems Bellevue has become polarized by one very simple question that will be in the form of a referendum on the ballot.

Some things related to this issue and the campaigning for the question of allowing alcohol licenses in Bellevue I find interesting. In letters to the editor and in several e-mails to me personally, I have been the subject of ridicule and blame for what woes there are in our town, empty storefronts, and the caliber of people that walk Lincoln Avenue and a host of other things. As the figurehead of Bellevue, I accept these comments, blame and misguided finger-pointing, as well as being called one of the "old ones" who do not want prosperity for Bellevue. These things just go with the job, whether it is right, wrong or indifferent. I do find it interesting that when I express my opinion that I am against the referendum in its present form, I am attacked as being the problem. Well, my mom always told me that when folks run out of facts for an argument, they go after you personally. Maybe this is the case.

Point and counterpoint have been written, published and debated on the subject and I believe almost everyone can't wait for election day to put this issue to rest. What happens after that is what really counts for people on both sides of the fence. Will both the winners and the losers have the intestinal fortitude to do the "right thing" and work in all aspects to make Bellevue a better place? Time will tell, and we will see who is worth their mettle.

I urge all who are registered to vote to get out and do so. When it comes time to vote on the referendum, just do what was explained to me when I first was elected to Bellevue Council. I asked a wise man how I should decide to vote on the many difficult issues that were to come before me. He said to me, “George, it is very simple. If it is good for Bellevue, vote for it. If it is not, then vote no.” It is just that simple. The present Bellevue and the future Bellevue are what we are truly voting on. Try to look ahead and see what could happen in five or 10 years, then just vote.

Last, and certainly not least, thank a veteran for
what they have done for us, as it is because of them that we all have the right to vote for this referendum.

George Doscher
Mayor, Bellevue


The question before voters next week in Bellevue is really quite simple: Do you support the "sale of liquor and malt and brewed beverages in bars, taverns, restaurants, hotels, clubs, and similar establishments in the Borough of Bellevue?"

For many residents of Bellevue, myself included, the answer is no. Thankfully this decision is in the hands of the residents of Bellevue and not those of the business owners and operators who do not live in our community. Renters and homeowners alike, we are the people who contribute most to the tax base and will directly face the consequences of this referendum.

Because I don't believe the misconception that a liquor license would only be issued to a "destination" restaurant, they call me a fear monger.

Because I'm worried that the Liquor Control Board's definition of a restaurant does not require a working kitchen but can be a can of soup and a bag of pretzels, they call me a fear monger. And call me a snob while you're at it, because that's also not my definition of "upscale."

Because I'm worried that the LCB would have sole control over whom the license would be issued to without any local input, they call me a fear monger.

Because the local council could then choose to expand the number of licenses, now projected at two or three, to more, they call me a fear monger.

Because I dare to look at our neighboring boroughs and decide the "prosperity" its bars and restaurants have brought are not what I want for my town, they call me a fear monger.

Because I accept the reality that the demographics of our borough differ from those in Sewickley, Shadyside and Ohio Township, they call me a fear monger.

Because I take pride in the borough I live in and comfort in the fact the Allegheny Together report paints a positive picture of our business district, they call me a fear monger.

Because I realize it is more important for the borough to attract families to purchase homes and stay involved in the community rather than attract "in-and-out" evening restaurant visitors, they call me a fear monger.

Because I dare to look ahead and examine the issue realistically, from all sides, weighing both the risks and benefits of the alcohol referendum, they call me a fear monger.

I'm not a fear monger and I take great exception to someone labeling me as such because I dare to differ in my opinion. Concerned citizens should be able to debate the issues respectfully based on facts.

Lynn Heffley


The goal of allowing alcohol sales is to increase commerce not only for the license holders, but for all the merchants as well by creating more "draws" into the business district. None of us want dive bars and it would be foolish for someone to try to operate that way in a town that does not want that. Contrary to what’s been said, there are ways to help prevent that. It’s also disappointing that it is assumed or feared that our existing quality establishments would not manage a license properly and would allow their places to become undesirable. I think quite the opposite.

I’d like to address some of the issues:

The comparisons to South Side: First, realize that South Side is a product of the mill era. Second, it is also a "neighborhood" in the city of Pittsburgh, it is encompassed by the entire city and is subject to their license quotas as a whole, not as an area alone. Bellevue is a municipality alone. It absolutely has the power to deny any additional licenses to transfer into the Borough. I believe this is under section 461-B3 of the liquor code. It has been stated that South Side could not stop a particular license from being transferred -- this is true -- but it was failed to mention that this particular license was already existing within the City and was being transferred only to another location in the same city which it already existed.

Prosperity: what does that mean? When you look at other vibrant successful towns, you see that we are missing some parts, alcohol sales being one of the major ones. None of us think that it is the total answer for success, but it is a very key element in allowing more options and destination spots that a lot of people are looking for and enjoy. Having more interesting options brings more people into town. That creates more foot traffic and interest in the town, which in turn promotes more commerce and has the great potential to increase revenues for all the merchants. It’s not about just the license holders making money, it’s about the entire business community. This is about economic development.

It is also important to mention that if this referendum were to pass, the option still remains open in future elections to reverse the decision by going through the same petition and voting process.

It’s been said that the best scenario is that a few businesses will get licenses and the rest of empty storefronts will remain empty. The missing point here is that when there is more interest in a town by more people, there also becomes more interest by other businesses willing to open up because the town is becoming more viable.

How does any of this attract new homebuyers? Simple. A vibrant business district with various options is appealing to homebuyers.

In summary, we have to think about the fact that with the thousands of people who live here in our town, how many of us go somewhere else for an evening out because of Bellevue's restrictions? We have to take a look at the very few customers that are on the main street on any evening and especially weekends. We have to ask ourselves, what do we want? Do we want to have places to go and listen to live music, enjoy a drink with dinner, have places to get together with friends right here in our own town? Do we want to be a town on the rise, a town that provides what people are looking for and become a destination spot for people all around? Do we want to be able to compete with other towns and places to make us stronger now and into the future? Or do we want to be a town that maintains status quo, gets more cigarette shops and dollar stores and the like, but yet is fearful of having what many other successful towns have to offer?

Mark Helbling


When I moved to Pittsburgh over two years ago I chose Bellevue. I found a nice apartment at a good price. I loved the business district and the ability to walk to the shops and services. But when I was close to signing the lease, the person showing me the apartment asked me if I knew "Bellevue was dry." She said she wanted to make sure I knew because tenants have complained about that in the past and they don't stay in Bellevue long.

For me it was a downer but I moved here anyway. Over time it's become more of a problem. As my wife and I spend evenings out we always go somewhere else, someplace for a nice dinner and a cocktail or someplace to watch a Pens or Steelers game over some drinks. It bothers me that I can't do that here in Bellevue. It bothers me that we both can't drink at those other places because one of us has to drive home. Shouldn't I be able to spend my money in Bellevue? Why is the borough restricting freedoms? The borough law against the sale of alcohol restricts my freedom to purchase alcohol and restricts businesses' freedom to sell it. It’s freedom and the free market that have made us the great nation that we are. Is it any wonder that Bellevue isn't as vibrant as it could be? Is it any wonder why so many commercial properties are empty? When you restrict personal and business freedoms you're stifling and inhibiting growth.

I've recently started looking at purchasing a house. I started looking in Bellevue because there are so many available houses. But as more houses become available and more commercial property becomes vacant I've started to worry about where this community is headed. A realtor I talked to said nine out of 10 buyers she introduces to Bellevue do not buy here. The prospect of owning a home in Bellevue would be much more appealing if there were more evening entertainment options. Bellevue has so much potential. Lincoln Avenue should be full of thriving businesses. There are some good ones now, but there's room for more!

I've been looking at the literature on both sides. One side seems to focus on fear of the worst possible scenario and the other tends to focus on the best potential scenario. This referendum is a major milestone for Bellevue.

Lyon Zeibak

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