New Liquor Laws Come Up Empty in Dry Towns

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Despite much-heralded updates to the state’s liquor license laws, several dry towns in suburban Philadelphia are managing to keep alcohol out.

When Pennsylvania uncorked overdue updates to liquor license laws last year, alcohol still didn’t flow to portions of suburban Philadelphia where sometimes century-old prohibitions empty the laws of their power.

Dry towns are prevalent in suburban Philly — 23 of the region’s 36 dry towns lie in Chester County and another 12 are in Delaware County — and changing that is an uphill battle, according to a PhillyVoice report by John Kopp and Kevin Shelly.

Not all dry towns are completely void of alcohol sales, though. Swarthmore, for example, remains a dry town even though residents finally yielded after a 15-year effort to serve alcohol at a Swarthmore College campus inn. Such exemptions exist, but they’re not common.

And even if ballot referendums succeed in reversing ages-old alcohol laws, some counties have limits on the number of liquor licenses allowed — and they’re already maxed out. When that’s the case, expired licenses or transfers can fetch six-figure prices at auction.

Read more about suburban Philly’s dry towns from PhillyVoice here.

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Top photo credit: Photoburglar The Conversation via photopin (license)

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