New Providence Borough Council unanimously approved amendments to the borough’s liquor license ordinance on Monday night, paving the path for the sale of the first license later this year.
The approval of this amended ordinance was a long time in the making. On three separate occasions over the past 60 years, various residents have tried to gain council and community support to change the ordinance to allow for the sale of liquor consumption licenses. Last November, to restaurants, which allows for alcoholic beverages to be served by the glass.
Before the ordinance was approved, Mayor J. Brooke Hern explained that numerous revisions were made two weeks ago at the recommendation of a potential bidder, Murray Hill Inn, “who had examined it in the context of what a real world business plan might look like and in terms of operating a hotel, if a hotel were to actually be the successful bidder on it.”
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.”
After much discussion between Tucker and Bill Boyle, owner of Murray Hill Inn, and Council members,
- 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
Borough Attorney Carl Woodward sent the revisions down to the ABC for approval after the amendments were approved by council.
“[I] spoke with Jose Rodriguez, the Deputy Attorney General who handles most of these things,” Woodward said. “We went over all of the changes and he had no problem with them.”
Councilman Michael Gennaro also asked about the ordinance’s section on the number of meals that must be served at a hotel with a liquor license. Last week, council approved an amendment that would relax the meal requirements for holidays.
After Woodward further reviewed the section, he added the amendment, which relaxes the number of meals that must be served on a maximum of four holidays per year.
, which was made by the Economic Development Committee and announced by Councilman Bob Robinson at the May 14 council meeting, is as follows:
Sept. 10: Council meeting to determine minimum bid price and bid process. Bidding process options include a sealed auction, a live auction or an online auction, .
Sept. 18: Informal meeting with interested bidders. Robinson said each prospective bidder would receive a bid packet and learn more about the licenses for sale. Those attending that information session will include: Borough Attorney Carl Woodward, Borough Planner Jeff Janota, Construction Official Keith Lynch, Economic Development Liaisons and Councilmen Robert Munoz and Bob Robinson, and Mayor J. Brooke Hern.
Sept. 15 and 22: Publish advertisement of bid.
Oct. 15: Applications are due from bidders.
Oct. 22: A list of pre-qualified bidders will be published.
Dec. 3: Bids received will be narrowed down to two.
Dec. 10: Council hopes to adopt a resolution awarding the license.