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Council Amends Liquor Ordinance With Suggestions from Murray Hill Inn

Borough Attorney Carl Woodward is sending amendments back to Alcoholic Beverage Control for review. The tentative date for final approval of ordinance is Monday, June 25.

Borough Council further revised the amendments to the liquor license ordinance Monday night after Murray Hill Inn Associates requested a number of changes that would align the ordinance with current practices in the hotel business.

H. Glenn Tucker, attorney for Murray Hill Inn Associates, penned a letter to the council on June 1, stating that the ordinance was reviewed and, assuming Murray Hill Inn is a successful and qualified bidder for a liquor license, there are “certain provisions in the ordinance which would hinder the ability of the hotel to serve its guests and patrons in a fashion consistent with industry standards.”

“This really follows what we set out to do and we set out to put a good ordinance out there, being realistic that it’s not perfect,” Councilman Bob Robinson said. “We welcome people to come in and offer reasonable recommendations to us that we’d listen to and they would be considered.”

After much discussion between Tucker and Bill Boyle, owner of Murray Hill Inn, and Council members, the changes requested and made to the ordinance include:

  • Permitting liquor be served through room service with a limited menu, as long as proper protocol is in place to verify legal drinking age
  • Restrooms can be a part of or close to restaurant service area
  • The sale of alcohol at any hotel functions are limited to hotel guests and attendees at hotel functions, with protocol in place to identify “party crashers,” and no outside alcohol can be brought into hotel functions
  • Allowing the hotel to suspend the sale of liquor on holidays if meals are not being served, as business is usually slow on holidays
  • Clarifying that an establishment serving alcohol can have no more than one bar stool for four seats in the dining area
  • A hotel can continue normal operation after the sale of liquor is over
  • Permitting charity casino, bingo, and raffle nights at a hotel, where alcohol will be served, as long as they are in line with regulations from the Alcoholic Beverage Control

Murray Hill Inn also requested the ability to serve alcohol at an outdoor function area, which hasn’t been created yet. But council members agreed to leave that request on the table until there are specific plans drawn up and shown to council.

Mayor J. Brooke Hern reassured the public that although the letter from Murray Hill Inn Associates looked like a Planning Board application in some ways, it is not and no approvals were given for the Inn to have a liquor license.

“There’s going to be a bidding process. It looks to us that Murray Hill Inn will be a part of that bidding process; they are expressing an interest in it. But the first liquor license will go through an open public bidding process and will go to the highest qualified bidder,” Hern said. “This is no way suggests that it’s going to be the Murray Hill Inn or that any approvals have been given or any kind of advantage in the bidding process. It’s just going to go to the highest bidder.”

Hern said the council is still looking for comments from residents of the community and any potential bidders so that when the bidding process begins, New Providence can be more competitive in terms of attracting businesses to bid on the first license.

"I think it’s very important for anyone who might be [considering bidding on a license]… If they have any intention of bidding, they should look at the ordinance, and make the comments and suggestions now so that our law is consistent with a real world business plan that can allow a restaurant or hotel to thrive with one of these licenses,” he said.

Borough Attorney Carl Woodward said he is sending these amendments to the Alcoholic Beverage Control for review and approval. The tentative date for final approval of this ordinance is scheduled for Monday, June 25.

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