Borough Council inched closer to completing the proposed amendments to the borough’s Alcoholic Beverages ordinance on Monday night, which may allow for four consumption liquor licenses be sold to restaurants in New Providence.
The ordinance, as it stands now, only allows for the retail sale of liquor without on-premise consumption. Amendments to this ordinance will outline regulations for both the sale and on-premise consumption of liquor.
After second review of the proposed changes, which were made with the type of desired establishments in mind, many council members raised a number of questions and concerns regarding the type of language used throughout the ordinance, wanting to ensure certain language is clearly defined and consistent throughout.
For example, Councilman Rob Munoz said the ordinance states that there should not be any food or beverages consumed at “counters,” but he said “counters” isn’t clearly defined.
Borough Attorney Carl Woodward said counters are not something “that’s desirable as opposed to a table” and “counters” should be clearly defined in the ordinance.
Other concerns were raised regarding language used throughout the ordinance, some of which will be addressed with Borough Planner Jeff Janota.
Councilman Bob Robinson raised another issue with the portion of the ordinance that would limit a restaurant from being on the second floor of a building. He said it might be too restrictive since some restaurants have two floors or exist solely on the second floor of a building.
In meetings with Janota, former Councilman Vincas Vyzas and New Providence Police Cpl. Daniel Henn, Munoz said he remembers discussions regarding this and safety issues were brought to light.
They didn’t want any issues preventing police from going up the stairs or having any issues getting patrons out of the restaurant if there’s a fire, he said.
“It’s more of a safety enforcement issue than anything else,” Munoz said.
Councilman Armand Galluccio noted some restaurants have two floors and sometimes the second floor is used for catering.
Mayor J. Brooke Hern said if that type of restaurant exists in New Providence, they would need to ensure there’s proper, safe exit.
But Borough Attorney Carl Woodward said that’s really a construction and fire code issue more than anything else.
“You can’t do it unless you comply with those [codes]. I think what should be the focus is not so much safety because the code takes care of that,” he said.
Instead, Woodward said the real question is whether or not New Providence wants a restaurant on the second floor of a building.
The consensus of council was to possibly delete that portion of the ordinance, barring any additional rationale from Janota.
Toward the end of this discussion, Borough Administrator Doug Marvin suggested the draft ordinance be published on the borough’s web site as a courtesy to the community. That way, both residents and potential bidders can see what the ordinance may look like and what rules there will be for any licensee.
But Hern said since the council just made changes to the draft ordinance, some of which need to be reviewed by Janota and the Planning Board, it would be best to wait until after the next council meeting to publish the draft ordinance.
Woodward also asked council if he should send the draft ordinance to the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control for review and comments.
But Hern also said they should wait to do that until after the next meeting.
Munoz asked how quickly they could expect comments back from the ABC after the draft ordinance is sent. Woodward said the ABC has always been responsive in the past and he’d expect to have comments within a couple weeks.
Fifteen minutes before the meeting ended, power went out in the Municipal Center and throughout portions of New Providence, Murray Hill and Berkeley Heights at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Ryder Way. Power has since been restored to those affected areas.
The next meeting of the Borough Council is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in the .