PLAINFIELD, NJ - A new Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is in charge of annual liquor license renewal this year, replacing City Council oversight of the process.
The three ABC board members were approved unanimously in April. Initial nominees have staggered terms. Successors will all have three-year terms. The ordinance also requires one of the three to be of the opposite political party.
- James Perry, who cited extensive board service on his resume in addition to being the founding Chief Financial Officer of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, serving from 1996 to 2013. His board affiliations include 23 years with Union County College, and 28 years with King's Daughters Day School. He was former chair of the Plainfield Redevelopment Authority and a founding member of the Plainfield Business Development Corp. A Democrat, he has an initial three-year term.
- David Graves, a repairer with the State of New Jersey, having previous managerial and technical positions in entertainment and manufacturing. Though not noted on his resume, Graves is well-known for community activities as well. He is a Democrat and has an initial two-year term.
- Oscar Riba, who is now vice president of Two Sigma Investments, LLC gained knowledge of ABC regulations as owner/operator of a New York bar for a decade ending in 2012. According to the resolution, he is a Republican and will serve a one-year initial term.
Riba was elected chairman for 2017 at the May 31 organizational meeting.
Plainfield has 31 liquor licenses in three categories, three for social clubs; 16 for bars, restaurants and night clubs; and 12 for liquor stores.
The ABC Board approved 24 licenses on June 27, meeting the June 30 deadline for renewal. On July 25, the board approved licenses for two clubs, two bars and one liquor store that had received state tax clearance Two remaining establishments have no location and are inactive at present.
Establishments that did not meet the June deadline were allowed to operate with temporary day-to-day licenses.
The 2017 process with the new board was "fairly straightforward," Riba said, as all the license holders passed Police and Fire inspections. The number of police responses to some locations was a concern, but none amounted to enough of a case to warrant denial, Riba said.
At the July 25 meeting, Riba said he wanted to update and strengthen the Municipal Code regarding alcoholic beverage establishments and after some discussion the board agreed to suggest three ordinances for the City Council’s August 14 meeting. They are:
- An ordinance requiring all employees of liquor establishments to carry identification issued by the Plainfield Police Division.
- An ordinance requiring that liquor establishments be responsible for the order and cleanliness within 150 ft. radius of each licensed premises.
- An ordinance requiring liquor establishments to have "see-through" windows.
The board unanimously approved a motion to authorize Board Secretary AJ Jalloh and Corporation Counsel David Minchello to draft the ordinances and forward them to City Administrator Rick Smiley.
The City Council will be holding a combined agenda-fixing and regular meeting on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave., and the ordinances could possibly pass on first reading. If so, they would be up for second reading and final passage at the Sept. 11 regular meeting.
"The Board believes that updated/modified ordinances will be helpful to authorities in doing their job more efficiently and effectively and have an impact on curbing potential illicit activity at any given establishment. We look forward to raising the bar for what is expected from business owners -- making every effort to be business friendly while making it known that how they choose to operate their establishment, potentially, has negative impacts on the community (i.e. noise, crime, upkeep around their premises)," Riba responded for this news article.
"I also brought forth the idea of creating a Best Practices manual for licensed premises business owners, a guide that can help with day to day operations internally (i.e dealing with belligerent customers or incidents on premises) to providing information that will be valuable in being a good neighbor and member of the business community," Riba wrote.
At the ABC Board’s August meeting, Riba hopes to discuss other possible legislation regarding additional training for liquor establishment employees, registration of event promoters for liquor establishments and how liquor establishments advertise events.