WESTFIELD, NJ — The public will be able to buy alcohol before noon on Sundays here if a proposed regulation change is approved.
The Town Council this week introduced revisions to its liquor sales laws, which would allow the sale of alcohol starting at 9 a.m. on Sundays. The ordinance update, if approved, would also remove the ability for restaurants and bars to sell alcohol during the early morning hours of New Year's Day.
The existing regulation prohibits alcohol sales between 1 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, and on Sundays from 1 a.m. to noon. The revision would allow for earlier Sunday liquor sales at places already permitted to sell alcohol, including Trader Joe’s Elm Street location, ShopRite Wines and Spirits South Avenue East location and at NosVino Wine Shop on Central Avenue.
News that the regulations in effect may apply to restaurants caught some council members by surprise at Tuesday’s conference session.
“We were under the impression that it was already 9 o’clock, and a lot of restaurants were already serving,” said Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, who chairs the council’s code review committee.
Town Attorney Thomas Jardim confirmed that the restaurants are serving alcohol starting at 9 a.m., but said the existing ordinance is ambiguous when it comes to the legality of doing so.
“The language is very quirky,” Jardim said. “It could be construed as 9 a.m. for restaurants, but I really think that should be clarified in the ordinance.”
Councilman Mark LoGrippo, who sits on the code review committee, objected to council members not learning of the revision's application to restaurants while the measure was in committee.
LoGrippo, however, agreed with the proposed revision. — “I think it makes sense,” he said.
An additional proposed update would remove the ability for establishments to sell alcohol during the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Jardim said.
“The ordinance, technically, allows you to sell alcohol on New Year’s Day until 3 a.m.,” he said. “We’re making that 1 a.m. to keep it consistent with the other times that it is permitted.”
A second reading and public hearing for Westfield’s updated liquor law is anticipated for Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 425 East Broad St.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh