NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – A brewing company’s request to have a sampling section at the borough’s upcoming street fair has been denied by the Borough Council.
In a split 3-2 vote, the council denied Untied Brewing Company’s request for an Open Container Waiver, which would allow them to offer samples of their beverages at the fair. A borough ordinance would prohibit the company from doing so. The resolution voted on during the Borough Council meeting Monday night, if passed, would have allowed an exception to this ordinance.
Council members Nadine Geoffroy and Robert Muñoz voted in favor of the request, while council members Bob Robinson, Matthew Cumiskey, and Peter DeSarno voted against the request. Council President Michael Gennaro was not present at the meeting.
Muñoz, who moved the resolution to a vote, said he saw the benefits of allowing the brewery to participate in the fair. He said the company's President and Owner, Matthew Green, was requesting the waiver in the best interest of the community.
“Matt is a resident of the town; he’s got kids here,” he said. “I don’t think he would do anything here that would take away from the character of the street fair.”
Geoffroy, who seconded the motion, said the sampling has the potential to bring more people to the event.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “I think it would bring more people to the street fair than we’ve had in a really long time.”
Meanwhile, Robinson questioned whether residents would actually enjoy having sampling at a family-friendly event. Despite his doubts, he said he remains supportive of Untied Brewing Company and would love to hear residents’ opinions on the matter.
“My mind is wide open, and I will be asking and listening to public input on this, but my vote is no,” he said.
Echoing Robinson, DeSarno expressed his desire for public opinion and his support for the company.
“I would like to have more public input as well,” he said. “I certainly hope Untied will be participating in the street fair in a different capacity.”
Cumiskey expressed doubts as to whether granting an exception to Untied Brewing Company would open the door for future similar requests.
“I think I would attend and enjoy going to the beer garden for untied, [and] as much as I appreciate and want to help untied, I just feel like we need to crawl before we walk here,” he said. “I would like to, maybe, have additional discussions amongst ourselves and the administration […] before we move forward.”
Prior to the vote, Untied Brewing Company’s President and Owner Matthew Green, who lives in New Providence, explained the potential benefits of allowing sampling at the fair.
“A lot of the other street fairs in the area, Madison [and] Westfield, have their own beer tents and beer gardens,” he said. “Those are usually quite big hits. Those fairs attract a lot of people into those towns to help boost the numbers of attendance.”
The New Providence Street Fair is scheduled to be held on Sunday, October 27th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., between South Street and Livingston Avenue. Activities will include a petting zoo, face painting, and food vendors. More information about the fair can be found on the borough’s website.