Mayor Hern Defends Approach to Liquor License Sale

Ten borough businesses received Community Appreciation Awards from Mayor J. Brooke Hern, left, including Jimmy Vardas of the Prestige Diner. Credits: Mike Neavill

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Using a large part of his annual address to residents, Mayor J. Brooke Hern defended efforts to market and sell the first of four liquor licenses to permit on-premises liquor consumption at a restaurant.

In 2011, voters approved a referendum to permit consumption liquor licenses, but two subsequent attempts to sell a license have not resulted in any bidders.

Hern said that license sales were designed as an economic development tool to attract high-quality restaurants, increase consumers on sidewalks and benefit the business community as a whole.

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In his address, Hern acknowledged that some residents believe that the borough’s ordinance is too tough and the price ($400,000) is too high.

“The kind of high-quality restaurants we seek have no problem whatsoever with the requirements of our ordinance or the established minimum bid,” Hern said. The problem, he added, was the availability of real estate.

Hern said the borough could set the stage for economic development through regulation and price, but it’s up to the business community to develop the economy.

The mayor added that market conditions, so far, have not been perfect and asked for patience. “We’ve come close enough that we should not lower our standards merely to unload a liquor license and get a bar in New Providence,” the mayor said.

Looking out at an audience of about 100 people who attended Monday’s (Jan. 6) reorganization meeting, Hern noted that many in the audience had responded to a call to serve their community.

He urged others to make such a commitment in 2014. “Become a firefighter, join the Rescue Squad, volunteer for a board, coach a baseball team or, perhaps, run for mayor.”

Prior to the mayor’s address, Councilmen Michael Gennaro, Robert Munoz and Jim Madden were administered oaths-of-office by former Governor Donald DiFrancesco.

Retiring Borough Attorney Carl Woodward was honored for his 33 years of service by the council. He was appointed Planning Board Attorney in 1980 and served as borough attorney for the last 19 years. Woodward said he had always leaned to municipal law, “where the rubber meets the road." By resolution, the council named Michael Cresitello Jr. as his successor.

Ten businesses that have helped organize and fund many special events in the borough received Community Appreciation Awards. They were Zita’s Homemade Ice Cream, Prudential Life, Prestige Diner, New Providence Lions Club, Martial Arts for Life, Lassus, Wherley & Associates, Kapuscinski-Luongo Architects, Investors Bank, Al Elefante Music and Creative Wallcoverings.


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