Nether Providence Acme and neighbors in a lather over beer and wine sales

Beer and wine sales have practically become a staple in supermarkets as Pennsylvania liberalizes its liquor laws.

But, in one Delaware County community, a more than half century old document could put the breaks on beer.

Bill Levens spent part of the spring-like day hosing down his nearly new Corvette in the driveway of his Surrey Road home in Nether Providence, Pa. The "Vette packs a lot of power, but not as much as Levens.

"You have an awful lot of say in this matter, don't you?" asked FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "Well, we could," said Levens, "but we hope it could just be settled on a friendly basis. Nobody wants to have a big brouhaha between us and the Acme shopping center."


The nearby Acme supermarket on Baltimore Pike at Beatty Road wants to sell to beer and wine, to stay competitive with other markets and convenience stores in the region. Acme itself sells the beverages at 23 of its other locations.

But, this store is different and here's why: A 1959 deed restriction entered into by the landowner and 30 homeowners from the Bowling Green subdivision next door, bans the sale of alcoholic beverages on the site. Acme now has a liquor license, but Nether Providence Township manager Gary Cummings says the store needs the unanimous approval of neighbors to put it to use.

"If one holds out," he says, they [Acme] are up the creek, so to speak."

Cummings says he believes neighbors could be persuaded to allow beer and wine sales but may demand that Acme make improvements to a store that has - its own people admit - seen better days.

After all, a SEPTA track and a privacy fence are all that separate neighbors from the potential nuisance of beer and wine sales.

"I think they're leaning toward lifting the deed restriction," says Cummings, "but on the other hand, they want all these improvements, including security cameras. They want to spic-n-span store. They're holding the cards."

Bowling Green residents say they've had problems with the strip shopping center in the past-- mainly restaurants that they say stunk up the neighborhood. They will think long and hard before agreeing to let Acme sell brewskis and Bordeaux.

"We want it done right," says Levens. "This is our neighborhood. It's a good neighborhood and we want to keep it that way."

In a written statement to FOX 29, an Acme spokesman says the company has a good track record of legal and efficient sales of beer and wine at its other locations and "we look forward to continuing to work with more communities to offer customers in those areas that same level of convenience."

A final resolution to this matter-- that is, a unanimous 'yes' or 'no' from neighbors--could be weeks, perhaps months, away.