Assemblyman Silver Announces Passage Of Bills Strengthening Community Input In The Licensing Of Bars And Clubs

June 26, 2009
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver today announced the passage of legislation (A.8518/Schimminger) intended to prevent the over-saturation of liquor serving establishments in a community by removing loopholes in the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law’s 500 foot rule. The 500 foot rule was designed to prevent more than three similar liquor serving establishments from operating within 500 feet of each other without a special hearing by the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

The legislation would update the Alcohol Beverage Control law to clarify that a hearing would be required if a fourth liquor serving establishment sought a license, regardless of its classification as a tavern, bottle club, restaurant-brewer or cabaret. Under current practice, an SLA special hearing to determine whether it is in the public interest to grant an application for an additional liquor serving business was only required when there was an application for a fourth alcohol serving establishment with the same classification.

An additional bill (A.8519/Schimminger) approved by the Assembly earlier this week would require the SLA to consider various public interest factors when conducting a 500-foot law hearing for all categories of liquor serving establishments. The factors would include the number, classes and character of licensed bars and restaurants within proximity of the applicant, evidence that all licenses were properly obtained and the effect a new license would have on vehicular traffic and parking in the surrounding area. The legislation would also require that the SLA consider previous liquor violations and criminal activity at the proposed location as well as any increase in noise level that would be generated by the business.

"The overabundance of bars and nightclubs has a drastic effect on the quality of life for the residents and businesses in our Lower Manhattan community," said Silver. "When determining whether or not to grant new liquor licenses, the SLA must consider detrimental consequences it may have on the surrounding community. The bills passed this week will help to prevent neighborhoods from being overrun by the rowdy and noisy behavior of patrons, traffic and crime. This bill will help to preserve the character and safety of Lower Manhattan neighborhoods."