A Luzerne County judge’s order directing the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to reinstate The Woodlands Inn and Resort’s liquor license may not be the last salvo in an ongoing battle between state officials and the Plains Township hostelry.
“While we respect the judge’s opinion, we are currently discussing our options with regard to an appeal,” PLCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman told The Times Leader on Wednesday.
Luzerne County Judge Richard M. Hughes III on Tuesday rejected arguments made by the PLCB defending its decision earlier this year not to renew the resort’s license.
The agency’s May 1 ruling against The Woodlands described a history of liquor law violations, disturbances that required police attention and an alleged failure to abide by the terms of a 2011 conditional licensing agreement that required, among other things, improved security procedures at the facility on Route 315, Plains Township.
“At the end of the day, as the regulatory agency overseeing alcohol sales, our job is to make sure that the licensees are abiding by the Liquor Code and the Board’s regulations, because if they’re not, they can have a significant negative impact on the health and welfare of the communities in which they serve,” Kriedeman wrote in an e-mail.
PLCB alleged there were 40 incidents at the resort between 2010 and 2012, including fights and assaults.
Hughes responded that those incidents “are of alleged disturbances, not forty incidents of criminal violations.”
“Very few of these disturbances resulted in police filing any criminal charges, and few if any resulted to serious injury to parties involved,” Hughes wrote.
“Unfortunately, altercations sometimes occur at night clubs. However, no evidence exists suggesting to this Court that occasional fights at a bar or night club, absent some nexus between the fights and the operations of the club, constitute a pattern of illegal activity,” the judge added.
“Moreover, even if the Court determined that the Woodlands knew or should have known of a pattern of illegal activity regarding these assaults and fights, the licensee has clearly demonstrated that it has taken substantial affirmative steps to guard against them,” Hughes said of security measures taken by the resort, concluding that management “should continue its proactive efforts to maintain a safe environment.”