Pitman Borough residents want alcohol available at their local restaurants.
That was the verdict when voters approved a non-binding referendum that would end the South Jersey town’s dry spell.
Pitman residents approved issuing alcohol licenses by a 2-to-1 margin (2935 to 1604 votes), which would allow alcoholic beverages to be sold by the glass or other open container in restaurants.
Now, the borough council must decide whether or not issue those licenses, with the majority vote a key consideration.
“They haven’t said what the cut-off is, but 65 percent is a pretty good margin,” said Borough Clerk, Judith O’Donnell.
O’Donnell says the council probably won’t make a decision on this until early next year.
All of Pitman’s councilmembers, who faced re-election, won on November 8, so it will be the same council that introduced the referendum question who will settle the issue.
The question of lifting Pitman’s long-standing ban on alcohol sales has come up for vote before. In 2007, residents voted down the measure.
From temperance to tippling
Pitman has been dry since it got it start as a Methodist summer camp in 1872. While alcohol sales have long been prohibited, drinking is not.
The borough has permitted “bring your own bottle”, or BYOB, at restaurants for years. In 2013, an ordinance expanded that policy to include restaurants with outdoor seating. Two years ago, select establishments were permitted to sell wine from local vineyards by the bottle to their patrons.
Earlier this year, thanks to a recent bipartisan law, Kelly Green Brewing Co. became the first of two breweries to open and offer a tasting room for beer lovers to wet their lips.
What happens next
Residents should’t expect to see the streets flowing with booze anytime soon.
Should council choose to lift the ban on liquor licenses, they will next draft an ordinance. However, requirements regarding restaurant size, hours of operation for liquor sales and other considerations would first need to be ironed out.
“It’s being dealt with very thoughtfully by council. They realize it’s an entire cultural change for the borough,” O’Donnell said.