Youngstown rejects beer, wine for proposed downtown store
By David Skolnick
The city’s planning commission rejected a request from the owners of a proposed downtown convenience store to sell beer and wine for carryout.
That decision came after Al and Fidaa Musleh, owners of the proposed store, failed to appear at Tuesday’s planning commission meeting.
Reached by The Vindicator after the meeting, Al Musleh said he and his wife didn’t receive a letter from the city about the meeting.
“We didn’t know about the meeting,” he said.
But Karen Perkins, the city’s zoning analyst, said the planning and zoning office mailed the letter April 8 to the Muslehs’ home.
The letter is a standard one, she said, mailed to all people with business before the planning commission notifying them to attend a specific meeting — Tuesday in the case of the Muslehs — or send an attorney or someone else to officially represent applicants.
The store, which would also be a Mediterranean deli, is to be located at 116 W. Federal St., the former location of Plaza Optical. The building has been vacant for about two years.
The Muslehs, who wanted to open the store in mid-May, needed a waiver to sell carryout beer and wine because they are within 500 feet of other regulated- use businesses, said Ray DeCarlo, the city’s zoning specialist. Those other regulated use businesses are a number of nearby bars and the Public Market convenience store on South Phelps Street.
“This was the last step before we were to open,” Musleh said.
He said the couple, who owned a grocery story and two gas stations in Youngstown, will contact city officials to see what can be done to receive the waiver.
The Muslehs can open the convenience store, but cannot sell beer and wine unless the commission reconsiders the request, said Bill D’Avignon, the city’s community development agency. They also can seek a waiver from city council, he said.
When the Muslehs failed to appear, city Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello, a planning commission member, recommended the request be denied. The board voted unanimously to reject the waiver.