THE BRONX - As two new liquor stores aim to open up in Crotona East along Southern Boulevard, residents and community leaders are gearing up for a fight.

Nancy Biberman, of the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco), says two more businesses selling alcohol, which often contributes to an atmosphere of violence, are not what the neighborhood needs, and many local residents agree.

"[In] all poor communities, what you have is liquor stores, cashiers and churches everywhere," says Ricardo Junco. "That last thing we need around here is a liquor store."

The New York State Liquor Authority has scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 15 to decide whether or not to approve the liquor license applications for Freeman Street Liquors and Judy Wine and Liquors.

Both the WHEDco and the Southern Boulevard Merchants' Association are urging community members to voice their concerns via an online petition.

In The Bronx, there are currently 166 liquor licenses in effect, compared to Brooklyn's 363 and Queens' 305. Southern Boulevard Merchants' Association

WHEDco50 East 168th St.Bronx, NY 10459