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Whitetail brings liquor referendum to Montgomery Township

February 21, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Whitetail Resort wants to get a referendum question on the May 21 Pennsylvania primary to change Montgomery Township from a “dry” township to a “wet” township.

Don MacAskill, president and general manager of Whitetail, said resort officials concluded after a great deal of thought and consideration to try to move the township from dry status to wet. In other words, the resort currently can’t sell alcohol.

“We would like to grow and improve Whitetail Resort. We would like to be able to open a restaurant that is open year-round and have the ability to serve alcoholic beverages,” he said.

In order to get a referendum before the voters in the primary, a petition question must be circulated to residents, said Jean Byers, deputy chief clerk of Franklin County Board of Elections.

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Byers said the petition question being circulated to township residents is: Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the Township of Montgomery? Yes or No

In order to appear on the primary ballot, a minimum of 612 signatures from registered voters in Montgomery Township must be collected on the petition between Feb. 19 and March 12.

“Going from the dry status to the wet status would allow us to secure a liquor license for our golf resort as well as the ski resort,” MacAskill said. “That would enable us to expand our banqueting program and offer more of a fine dining experience.”

If the referendum appears on the ballot and wins, MacAskill said the resort will automatically be granted a liquor license.

“We do not take this campaign lightly. It’s our mission as we go through this campaign to make sure we have an open dialogue with township residents to make it as clear as possible why we support this referendum, and why we are going to be looking for their support as well,” MacAskill said.

He said Whitetail is the only one of 30 resorts in Pennsylvania that does not have a liquor license.

Four years ago, a liquor referendum passed at one of Whitetail’s sister resorts, Roundup near Harrisburg, Pa.

“Because ... we operate two other resorts (with liquor licenses), we are very knowledgeable in offering the necessary training that our staff would need to properly operate a restaurant with a liquor license. We will operate any restaurant in a responsible fashion and we will make sure that the staff has the necessary training to serve alcoholic beverages in a restaurant establishment,” he said.

He said some people have expressed concerns that if the referendum passes, bars will pop up in the township.

There are currently no liquor licenses available in Franklin County, MacAskill said.

“The only reason we would be able to secure one is that we fall under the special classification of a golf and ski resort,” he said.

MacAskill said passing the referendum would mean jobs.

“Currently we provide 1,100 seasonal jobs and 42 full-time, year-round positions. With the passage of this liquor referendum, we plan to expand the resort, which will provide greater job opportunity for people in the area,” he said.

Passing the referendum would enable the resort to expand, which would mean additional property tax revenue for the Tuscarora School District, he said.

“We are the largest taxpayer in the school district. Our annual property tax bill is $275,000,” MacAskill said.

The Tuscarora Chamber of Commerce officially endorsed the effort to pass the referendum during its legislative breakfast Thursday at Whitetail. In a letter dated Feb. 1, chamber Executive Director Mary-Anne Gordon said the chamber thinks Whitetail will remain family friendly and a great place for residents to “play as well as work.”

She wrote that the chamber looks forward “to the jobs this will bring as Whitetail grows, the stabilization of township and school taxes, and the positive impact this will have on our neighboring businesses and communities.”

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