City sets hearing date for Tops’ ‘malt’ sales

A public hearing date has been set on an application that would result in alcohol sales at Tops in downtown Warren.

Attorney John Knox, representing Tops Friendly Markets, told Warren City Council that Tops PT LLC will be sub-leasing from Tops Friendly Markets “where they will be selling malt beverages” in a portion of the store.

Council discussed the proposal during a Monday meeting.

Knox explained that his client needs a liquor license and is “buying it from a group that used to operate the Pleasant Valley Inn in Brokenstraw Township.”

He said that the liquor code requires Tops to seek approval from the municipality to where the license is going and he has “been in discussions with your solicitor to try to facilitate that process…. It’s my understanding that in the City of Warren you… want to have a separate hearing for the purpose of reviewing the application in its entirety.”

Council set that hearing for March 21 at 7:30 p.m.

If council approves, Mayor Maurice Cashman asked how quickly the business would be in operation.

Knox estimated 30-45 days but said “it’s not my decision, it’s the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board)’s decision.”

Cashman then asked where opposition usually comes from when a license is transferred like this.

“Usually some self-interested parties,” Knox said, “entities that may appear in any given municipality that feel this is a turf war so to speak (and) want to protect their interests.”

In other business, council approved a $120,600 contract with Swanson & Sons of Bradford for repairs to the ramp and the public restroom at the rear of the municipal building.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said that $100,000 had been budgeted for the project. “We would consider the extra funds being taken from the 2016 mill and overlay project,” he said.

Councilman Jim Zavinski asked if the firm had worked with the city before.

Holtz said they had not but that he had worked with the firm in other capacities and that the project architect “has worked with them many times and they come recommended.”

He added that the project should take about three months, starting the middle of May and completed before Labor Day. “It’s not going to look a whole lot different than what you got now,” Holtz said, but added that it will have a wider turning radius and the brick work will be repaired after years of salting. The restroom swill also be ADA compliant when completed.