Well, ya got trouble, my friend, …right here in River City*

An ordinance adopted by the Borough Council in December permits a “limited brewery” as an acceptable use in the borough’s business districts.

“You’ve come a long way, Baby,” springs to mind.

In 1851, ten Philadelphia merchants seeking a place to build their summer homes away from the City’s problems, yet close enough to commute to their Center City places of businesses, founded Riverton.

In 1852, the State Legislature granted a charter to The Riverton Improvement Company which, among other things, issued deeds that included a clause restricting the sale or manufacture of liquor, which read as follows:

Shall not at any time hereafter manufacture or cause to be manufactured, sell or cause, or knowingly permit to be sold, directly or indirectly, in or upon the premises hereby conveyed, or any part thereof, any spiritous, vinous, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors, except as a medicine, or for medicinal purposes in case of sickness

Thirty years later, a  column in the Riverton Journal reinforced that decision with this opinion:

…the wise restriction of the Riverton Improvement Company… has saved us much of the intemperance, ill-feeling and brutality, which are the inseparable companions of the tavern and saloon. A drunkard is rather a curiosity on our streets.

Palmyra Weekly News, May 15, 1897

News of temperance movement meetings, conferences, and sermons, fictional stories with a temperance theme, and appeals to pledge abstinence peppered pages of the local periodicals of the day.

Today, over 160 years later, Riverton remains one of only three dry towns in Burlington County (Delanco and Pemberton are also dry towns in the county.)

Those Quaker founders must have thought the language was iron-clad and unbreakable.

As reported last October and November in the Burlington County Times, Courier-Post, and patch.com, that longstanding restriction of Riverton’s founders was about to give way as Borough  Council considered amending its zoning laws to allow a limited brewery to be a permitted use in the neighborhood business zoning district.

Now, that truly would turn a new page in Riverton’s history.

*lyric from “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man Soundtrack

By late December 2017, Borough Council did indeed adopt an ordinance that permits a “limited brewery” as an acceptable use in the borough’s business districts.

While the Borough has not yet granted a liquor license, the door is now open to allow a brewery as a potential use.

In a January 14 philly.com piece, columnist Kevin Riordan says he expects Riverton will embrace the idea.

What do you think, Riverton?

Will allowing a brewery bring trouble and ruin to our River City, or will it bring enjoyment and an economic shot in the arm?   -JMc

Published by

John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

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