TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Chris Christie returned a bill on May 11 to the state Legislature that would have permanently extended seasonal liquor licenses for two months, citing the measure would adversely affect the financial stability of establishments with year-round licenses.
Christie acknowledged that he did extend these licenses temporarily through executive order for several years following Superstorm Sandy, as a way to lessen the economic hardship experienced by licensees who lost significant business.
However, to permanently allow seasonal holders to serve alcohol beginning on March 1, rather than May 1, would “be at the expense of year-round alcohol beverage consumption licensees,” since they rely on the few customers who patronize their establishments in the winter months.
“Not only is the bill unnecessary, the shore bars reported high revenues this past summer season, demonstrating that the existing seasonal license period is working as intended,” he said in a written statement.
After three years of granting extensions to seasonal license holders on a temporary basis after Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Christie last year chose not to act at all on a bill that would have made the extension permanent.
D’Jais is the only bar in Belmar with an active seasonal license that would have benefited from the permanent extension — and is among seven in the state, and six in Monmouth County, with seasonal licenses.
Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-Monmouth), who represents Belmar and Lake Como, applauded Gov. Christie’s action: “Those who purchase their licenses agree to operate under certain terms, which should not be subject to change on the whims of certain licensees," Rible said in a statement. "Bar and restaurants that purchase a liquor license — often for hundreds of thousands of dollars — must operate on a level playing field. Our state government should not choose winners and losers in this industry."
Rible also called the action "a victory for residents whose quality of life would have been greatly diminished by allowing these establishments to operate even longer."
"Many of my constituents were understandably concerned about being forced to endure additional days and nights with loud patrons, fights, and even public urination that plague the neighborhoods surrounding some seasonal bars and restaurants," he said. “Now that this bill has failed in two consecutive sessions, I am hopeful this is the last time we will have to consider this irresponsible legislation.”