The goal of Swarthmore21 is simple:  to remove an obstacle to entrepreneurial investment and long term prosperity in the Town Center.  Specifically, we are working to ensure Swarthmore voters pass a Referendum to allow licensed businesses sell beer, wine, and spirits in accordance with state and county limitations. The laws and regulations around this issue and the process are varied and complex, so we’re providing here a brief summary of how all of this works.

Vote during Primary Election on May 16

Since Swarthmore21 was successful in securing the necessary signatures during the petition period, the following question will be on the ballot during the primary election on May 16:

Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the Borough of Swarthmore?

If a simple majority of voters answer “Yes” to the question during the primary, current restrictions around the sale of beer, wine, and spirits will no longer apply in Swarthmore.

Licensing & Operation

If the Referendum passes on May 16, Swarthmore would be permitted two (2) restaurant licenses, where use of such licenses would require only PA Liquor Control Board approval.  This number of licenses is based on the current population of Swarthmore as stipulated by PA law, and these licenses would be over and above the one currently held by the Inn at Swarthmore.  Additional licenses beyond these would require approval by both the PA LCB and the Swarthmore Borough Council.  Existing or new restaurants interested in selling beer, wine, and/or spirits would need to purchase a license from another existing license holder within Delaware County.

Passage of the Referendum would also pave the way for our town grocery store to seek and purchase a license to sell beer as well as wine, given recent reform of PA state laws, for both on-premise consumption and carry-out.  In effect, removing current restrictions would help to level the playing field for our town grocery store so that it can compete more effectively with other nearby grocers (big and small) who now offer beer and/or wine to their customers.

Referendum Cadence

Based on Pennsylvania law, a Referendum regarding the sale of beer, wine, or spirits is permitted only in municipal election years (i.e., odd numbered years). In addition, Pennsylvania law prohibits the same question from being on the ballot more than once every four (4) years.  Since the question will be on the ballot in 2017, the next opportunity for a referendum with the same question would be in 2021.