New Providence Reviews New Liquor Rules

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -The Borough Council on Monday began the process of assembling one of the ordinances that will control the four retail consumption liquor licenses to be issued by the borough.

The residents approved the sale of four retail consumption liquor licenses in November.

The council reviewed a draft of a revised alcoholic beverages ordinance that has been prepared by the planning board. The ordinance will govern such items as licensing, fees, hours of sale and other operational aspects. A second ordinance will revise the borough’s zoning map to set the places that would be suitable for an establishment with a liquor license.

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Mayor J. Brooke Hern said he would like to have the results of a planned meeting between the planning board attorney, council attorney Carl Woodward, administrator Douglas Marvin and the borough planner by the council’s next meeting on Jan. 23.

“We want to keep moving at a steady pace,” Hern said.

The version of the ordinance reviewed Monday was a combination of sections of the existing ordinance and revisions, and new sections that were modeled on liquor ordinances from towns that already allow the sale of liquor by the drink.

The combination left the council in a confused state.

Council president Michael Gennaro wondered why there was such complete descriptions concerning the layout of potential restaurants. He also wondered if such items more properly belonged in the zoning ordinance or were the covered under the state’s building code.

Woodward said zoning ordinances address conditions in the exterior of buildings, and this ordinance addresses the interiors of buildings.

Councilman James Cucco wondered about the clauses that described the potential purchase of a liquor license by a hotel. He also wondered if the new rules would apply to liquor stores.

Clerk Wendi Barry said the existing ordinance applies to liquor store operations, not the proposed changes, which only apply to restaurant-type establishments.

Hern, who also sits on the planning board, said the goal of the process was to establish rules that would attract the type of restaurants that would enhance the borough’s commercial businesses. That had been the council’s stated goal all along, he said, to write local rules that would attract higher-end restaurants and not establishments that would only serve alcohol.

While individual council members questioned particular clauses and phrases in the draft ordinance, Councilman Alan Lesnewich said that since the proposed new sections of the ordinance had been drawn from rules from other towns that had already received approval from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, New Providence might not be as far from an agreeable set of rules at it seemed.

Woodward said he has been in contact with the state commission’s lawyers during the entire approval process, and will arrange a meeting with them to get their guidance on the next steps.

In other business Marvin said he will present the council with information on a Jan. 24 electric power auction, which if the council chooses to participate, could save a possible $60,000 on the borough’s annual electric bill. 

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