HAZLETON — City council approved the transfer of a liquor license this week to a Turkey Hill store at 15th and Alter streets despite opposition from residents who worry about more trouble in their neighborhood.
The vote to approve the transfer was 3-1, with Councilwoman Grace Cuozzo abstaining and Councilman Robert Gavio opposing it.
The license is being transferred from Russell’s Cafe in Plymouth Township and will allow the Turkey Hill location to sell alcohol.
Some council members had questions regarding security since several armed robberies have taken place at the store. Paul Namey, an attorney representing Turkey Hill, said there are currently two exterior cameras. He said the cameras will be upgraded with the addition of alcohol to the store’s offerings.
Resident Anthony D’Angelo, who has lived on Alter Street his whole life, presented a petition to council signed by 95 residents who live in the neighborhood. D’Angelo had concerns about pollution, noise from Turkey Hill trucks and late night customers as well as the chance of more crime in the area as a result of liquor purchases.
“The deterioration of this neighborhood is awful,” said D’Angelo. “Now we’re going to add liquor to this problem.”
Ralph Cameron, who lives one block from the convenience mart, had similar concerns.
“That noise is not only in the daytime. It’s 24 hours and then you have all the unsavory characters hanging out there,” he said.
Resident Antonio Rodriguez added: “There’s too much crime in the city already. We grant another liquor license — we’ll have more crime. The police department has their hands full.”
Mayor Jeff Cusat, whose family runs a bar/restaurant several blocks away on Alter, said he didn’t agree with the idea that an additional liquor license has the potential “to cause trouble.”
In fact, he pointed out the city can benefit from the additional business generated by Turkey Hill being able to sell liquor.
Namey said residents can contact Turkey Hill directly if they have any complaints in the future.
In other news at this week’s meeting:
• Some residents spoke in favor of council approving a 10-year, no-interest loan for $850,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Hazleton was recently granted Act 47 status as a financially distressed municipality, and the loan was one of the first steps in the Act 47 process.
Rodriguez asked council: “What will happen to the city if you don’t approve it (the loan)?” He questioned if there would be more layoffs and a loss of police officers and firefighters.
Council voted 4-1 to approve the loan, with Councilwoman Cuozzo opposed.