VINELAND — The city will proceed with a somewhat controversial plan to create a new retail liquor license as part of its development agreement with officials behind the new Bottino ShopRite.
City Council will introduce an ordinance when it meets Tuesday that, if eventually adopted, will create the license.
The creation of that license was criticized recently by some local liquor license operators and the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance. They both warned that sales could drop significantly if Bottino ShopRite eventually gets a license.
They also argued that the creation of the license circumvents the traditional procedure in which existing liquor licenses are bought from their owners. They further contended that the license would be written in such as way as to make Bottino ShopRite the favorite to win it by, in part, limiting the area in which the license can operate.
Local officials state in the ordinance that a new retail liquor license can be created based on new U.S. Census Bureau statistics. The number of allowable liquor licenses is, by state law, linked to a municipality’s population. The statistics on which the ordinance is based were not immediately available Wednesday.
City Solicitor Alfred Verderose said the next step is decide whether the liquor license will be sold via a sealed-bid option or through a public auction.
Under the sealed-bid option, entities wishing to buy the license would submit their one bid for it, he said.
The public auction would allow interested parties to bid against one another until only one bidder is left, Verderose said. That method could result in a bigger purchase price than the sealed-bid proposal, he said.
A decision as to how to sell the license seemed to surprise City Councilmen Louis Cresci and Douglas Albrecht during City Council’s meeting Tuesday. They both said they thought the license was to be sold only through a public auction, a method they still favor.
Verderose said City Council has time to decide which sales method it wants to use.
Work on the $17 million store is already under way on a 14-acre parcel of land across West Landis Avenue from a Super Walmart that opened in 2009.
The opening of the Walmart was a project that local officials hoped would encourage more commercial development on a stretch of West Landis Avenue between Route 55 and Delsea Drive, which is also designated Route 47.
City officials said the new ShopRite would combine with the Walmart store to create of sort of western economic gateway leading to the downtown business district.
Contact Thomas Barlas: