Monday, June 16, 2008

Annual Liquor License Decisions Up Tonight

City liquor licenses number 33, down from 38, but City Council President Harold Gibson would like to see even fewer places to buy or consume alcohol.

Licenses are up for an annual review this month and action will be taken at tonight’s City Council meeting. At last week’s agenda session, 18 licenses were up for renewal and others were in dispute over tax matters, lack of fee payments or issues of ownership or location. Those whose problems cannot be resolved by June 30 will have to shut down, although the state allows owners to get day-to-day “ad interim” licenses while seeking resolution.

Gibson and others say the city has too many licenses for its size. But the excess places are “grandfathered” in because they were in existence before the state set a ratio for licenses based on population. Council members have asked for more frequent police reports on liquor establishments so they can better decide on renewals. Click here for a story on last year's process.

Tonight’s meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

As of last week, three social clubs, seven bars or restaurants and eight liquor stores were up for renewal. More may since have resolved their problems and received clearance from the state Division of Taxation and director of Alcoholic Beverage Control. City Clerk Laddie Wyatt said a special meeting may be necessary between now and June 30 if further action is needed from the governing body to grant or deny renewals.

--Bernice Paglia


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