PATERSON, NJ – A perplexed look came over City Council President Anthony Davis’ face. He and his colleagues on Tuesday night had been listening to a local businesswoman’s application for a license to provide dance music at her establishment, Alto Rango, at 253 12th Avenue in the 4th Ward.
Davis wanted to clarify something: Was the business a bar, a liquor store or a night. The answer: all three. Davis shook his head in frustration.
By a 4-3 vote, the council members eventually approved a three-month entertainment license for Alto Rango after a debate that focused on citywide quality of life problems more so than on the merits of the individual business.
“My problem is not with this applicant,’’ said Councilman William McKoy. “My problem is with the trend we are creating in the City of Paterson where folks are morphing bars into liquor stores.’’ McKoy later added, “The quality of life in this city is being significantly impacted by out-of-control liquor stores.’’
Davis agreed. “We are creating this climate, this monster, with these liquor stores.’’
City liquor stores, council members said, too often become city nuisances by attracted unruly crowds early in the morning and late at night.
Alto Rango has begun operation at location between Madison and 18th avenues that had been dormant, officials said. In response to concerns expressed by 4th Ward Councilwoman Ruby Cotton, Alto Rango’s owner, Juanita King Sandoval, agreed to accept a three-month license instead of applying for one for a year. Cotton said the shorter term would allow officials to determine whether the new business was hurting the neighborhood.
Also, Sandoval agreed not to have the DJ on Sundays, so the dance music would only be provided on Friday and Saturday nights.
Councilman Kenneth McDaniel said officials needed to address the citywide quality of life problem through an ordinance setting across-the-board restrictions, rather than to impose sanctions against an individual business. “It’s our duty to come up with some solution,’’’ McDaniel said.
Cotton, McDaniel, Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman and Julio Tavarez voted in favor of the 90-day license. Davis, McKoy and Kenneth Morris voted against it.