CRAFT BEER SAMPLING

The Moorestown Township Council unanimously approved allowing breweries, distilleries and winery salesrooms within its borders Monday night.

A dry community for nearly 100 years until voters by referendum in 2011 decided it was time to change, Moorestown like many other New Jersey communities now will permit sampling rooms for beer, liquor and wine. The businesses are not allowed to sell food.

Council members said the new businesses would help to support the local restaurant industry and add to township revenues through property taxes and other fees collected for the outlets, which are regulated by the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

"This has been a long time coming," Mayor Nicole Gillespie said shortly before Council members voted 5-0 in favor of the zoning ordinance that opens the way for the sampling rooms.

"We've seen it done in other communities and it's been a tremendous success," said Council member Quinton Law. "I'm just really happy to see this happening in our community and I know there's a lot of people who are going to be excited to grab a beer or some wine in our town."

Council member David Zipin noted that the new businesses would not serve food, which means customers likely would order food from nearby restaurants. The ordinance allows the businesses to open on Main Street, the Lenola Town Center and around the Moorestown Mall and on Centerton Road.

"This isn't just another convenience store opening up," Zipin said. "Where these businesses have been successful in other surrounding communities, they rely on the restaurants in the immediate vicinity to provide essentially takeout to their establishments.”

Council members Jake Van Dyken and Sue Mammarella offered similar observations, with Mammarella saying she is "picturing that great gathering place for people in Moorestown."

Township Council last month unanimously passed an ordinance permitting two retail liquor, or "package," stores in commercial areas of town. Two stores, a number determined by population, would be licensed by the state in Moorestown.

» MORE: Are microbreweries on their way to formerly dry Moorestown?