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Bill Would Allow Yes! to Open Front Doors

Bill would shorten distance from churches where liquor-licensed stores could operate, but only in a narrow section of Hyattsville.

You might not know it, but actually has two entrances. 

There's the one you are familiar with, facing the parking lot in the rear of the block. However, there is also a set of doors on the front, facing the sidewalk. But because those street-side entrance to organic grocery store lies within 500 feet of the front doors of, the grocery store can't use them. 

State law prohibits stores with Class B liquor licenses, which permit the sale of alcohol to be consumed off premises, to have an entrance within 500 feet of the front door of a church, measured along likely pedestrian routes. 

Gary Cha, Alexandria resident and owner of the Hyattsville Yes! Organic Market says the law is outdated. 

"It served it's purpose many years ago," said Cha in an interview in his store. "When the region wasn't as dense as it is now, with new development springing up all over, I think it'd be different."

But as it is, Cha says that the distance-to-church rule needs to be modified. 

State Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George's) agrees and is trying to fix it with a bill moving through the legislature which would amend the minimum distance from a church's front doors that a store with a class B liquor license can operate

"We have some antiquated liquor laws on the books," said Pinsky in an interview. "Should the liquor laws in the county be reviewed? Probably."

But Pinsky said that he didn't want to go as far as a statewide modification, so he has crafted the legislation in a particularly narrow manner.

As currently written, the bill would modify the general prohibition against selling alcoholic beverages within 500 feet from a church's front door. But only in Hyattsville, and only within Hyattsville's Gateway District Corridor, which stretches up Route 1 to the border with Riverdale Park. 

"They are there, I want them to be successful," said Pinsky of the grocery store. "I want them to be able to open the commercial corridor."

The bill, PG 308-12 has been approved by the Prince George's County House Delegation. It next has to clear the senate environmental committee before being introduced to the general assembly. It is expected to pass easily, say staff at Pinsky's office. 

Officials for Crossover Church did not reply to a message seeking comment on this issue. 

Donald James February 10, 2012 at 01:48 PM
This has to be the stupidest law on the books for 2012. Unless the church is paying property taxes, then there should be no reason this law is still in effect. And even if they were paying property taxes, this should not infringe on the rights of property owners!
Anne Headley February 16, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I agree with Donald. Yes! is a cheerful, friendly, convenient place to shop. Thanks to Senator Pinsky for helping to further the cause of intelligent development. Fix this law, please!

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