CB3 Task Force Discusses Stipulations for New Liquor Licenses

Posted on: March 29th, 2012 at 6:49 am by

Fact 1 – Restaurants, bars and nightclubs tend to pay higher rent than other tenants.
Fact 2 – Beer and wine license applications are practically rubber stamped.

One block on St Marks Place has 17 beer and wine licenses, and at least 4 full liquor licenses.

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Photo Credit: Lori Greenberg

What’s a community board to do?

Last night, residents met with a task force formed by Community Board 3 (CB3) to get input on creating neighborhood requirements for new businesses applying for liquor licenses. The discussion focused on encouraging quieter restaurants which are open during the day and who close relatively early at, say, 11pm (instead of the now-standard 4am).

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo Credit: Lori Greenberg

The first speaker was a landlord who rents to a restaurant on Ludlow Street, and also rents another property nearby. He mentioned that 4 or 5 other tenants in his other holdings have moved out, because of the noise from the bars nearby. This speaker was all for the idea of trying to attract restaurants which would be open during the day, and which would close early.

A strong recurring concern was the disappearance of the variety of local businesses, many of which have been displaced by bars and clubs. One speaker said, “We have lost the battle to have other types of daytime businesses come in. They are getting priced out. Letting more bars in will not help other businesses.”

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Robert Graf, President of the First Street Block Association said, “Bars attract bars. Maybe we can create a neighborhood which is based on other businesses.”

A member of EVORA (East Village Owners and Renters Association) said, “We’ve lost hardware stores, we’ve lost laundromats…we’ve just lost.” He read from EVORA’s “good neighbor” policy which, among other things, asks new bars and restaurants to provide soundproofing, to serve food, and to play only ambient recorded music. Many businesses have signed this agreement, and EVORA has had success with bringing in quieter types of establishments.

In response to further questions about encouraging varied businesses, Susan Stetzer, District Manager of CB3 said there is currently an Economic Task Force forming addressing the topic of “Retail Diversity.”

But, she continued, the fact is that the bars will keep infiltrating the area and, because the applications are so readily approved, newer establishments will easily obtain beer and wine licenses. The realistic path is to get the new establishments to sign agreements, called stipulations, similar to EVORA’s “Good Neighbor Policy.” The stipulations then go on record with the State Liquor Authority (SLA), and those stipulations become attached to the liquor license even if it is transferred.

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Stetzer pointed out that block associations and neighborhood groups are winning some of the battles with “bad” business owners, citing how they have been able to get liquor licenses revoked when a business breaks the rules. But, New York is…complicated (and these types of businesses often have better lawyers). An attendee kept awake by a club seven blocks away from her (yes, you read that right), working with her neighbors, got the club’s liquor license revoked because it violated a law disallowing liquor licenses within 200 feet of a church. But the club simply reopened, noisy as ever, with a beer and wine license.

The people who frequent the bars and clubs in the area too often get drunk and end up shouting and howling (and smoking) outside of our windows, peeing in our doorsteps, and even stripping down to yell at cops on horseback. Clearly they can sleep it off somewhere else. The expression goes, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.” So the question is: how do we make the East Village and Lower East Side both a nice place to visit…and to live?

Written by Lori Greenberg

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