WESTFIELD, NJ — You may now buy a bottle of Jack Daniels before noon on Sundays in the town, but for the past 23 days, it has technically been illegal to buy mimosas before 9 a.m. at local restaurants and bars, something set to change Tuesday.
The Town Council revamped its liquor law so the public is allowed to buy alcohol unopened and in its original containers — known as packaged goods — before noon on Sundays, but in doing so inadvertently changed the 6:30 a.m. allowable time of sale at restaurants and bars to 9 a.m.
“We were trying to clean up a complex ordinance by having the sale time consistently be 9 a.m., and that inadvertently penalized businesses that opened earlier,” said Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, who chairs the council’s code review committee. “Our intention was always to boost business and offer convenience to our residents so we are amending the ordinance to allow for earlier sales during the week.”
Municipal officials had to wrangle with a complex set of state and local regulations, the town’s attorney told the council recently.
“State law is fairly confusing because it makes a distinction between on-premises consumption and off-premises consumption,” said Town Attorney Tom Jardim. “It also makes a distinction when it comes to differences between beer, wine and hard liquors. And it makes distinctions between weekdays and Sundays. We tried as best we could to clarify the ordinance in keeping with the ABC regulation.”
The council adopted the regulation update on March 12 at which time it also introduced a measure to move the start time for the sale of alcohol at restaurants and bars back to 6:30 a.m. The council anticipates adopting the second update after a public hearing next Tuesday.
There has been no public discussion of enforcing the updated morning liquor sale start time at restaurants and bars during the 29 days during in which it is anticipated to remain in effect.
If you find any of these updates even remotely confusing, you are not the only one.
“I am a lawyer and feel like it’s hard to digest and take of these different parts of it in,” said Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan, before casting the lone vote against the update in March. “I think it would be better if had we had a properly written report before we vote on some change that regards the liquor laws in our town.”
The Town Council has set a public hearing on the latest update for Tuesday, April 9, at 8 p.m. at the Town Hall, 425 East Broad St.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
Below, view the municipality's recorded live-stream of the March 12 Town Council meeting at which the updated local alcohol law was introduced.