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Bronx Liquor License Denial Pressed by Community Board

A Bronx community board has been successful recently in its push to urge lawmakers to pass a measure requiring police consultation prior to Bronx liquor license denial decisions. 

Liquor license attorneys in the Bronx and throughout the boroughs have been closely watching the case, as it could have a significant impact on the hurdles for restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

It would mean every single report of an incident at one of these establishments could count as a significant mark against the business when it comes time for a liquor license renewal. Some have wondered whether that might negatively impact public safety, with clubs being more inclined to attempt to handle matters internally, rather than involve police.

The situation reveals just how powerful local community boards can be, and why having an effective legal advocate to help you early on can be key. Getting representation before your neighborhood board, efore tensions reach significant heights, can save you from major headaches down the road.

In this case, the primary cause of this action was a violent confrontation last summer inside Club Eleven, which had been the last remaining strip club in the district. By the time police launched their investigation, five men had been stabbed and two others shot. None suffered fatal wounds, but the fallout proved fatal for the business.

The state Workers Compensation Board ordered the club to shut down, and the company’s liquor license later expired. However, that action came about a year after the epic bout of violence had erupted on site.

A representative with the State Liquor Authority later said it might have shut down the operation sooner, but it was never notified about the long list of lesser offenses, including disorderly conduct, public urination and reckless driving, which had been issued to the club’s patrons since the establishment first opened its doors.

It was for this reason that Community Board 2 pushed for legislation that would require the SLA to compile a full list of arrests and infractions incurred at each bar and nightclub. That way, if a situation ever arises where the establishment’s liquor license is in question or when it comes time for renewal, the state board will have every incident ever reported against the business.

A statewide bill was sponsored by Democrats, and passed both the state House and Senate earlier this year. The law would require local police precincts to offer up complete records to the SLA anytime a liquor license decision is being mulled.

The two sponsors of the bill intend to stand on the steps of the shut-down Club Eleven, to publicly call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill. He likely will.

It won’t be the first time that a community board will have been able to claim success in blocking a business from operation. Right now in Queens, the Daily News reports that Community Board 2 has shot down a proposal to erect a condo complex and subsequently relocate a historical structure to the site of a former playground. Although the Landmarks Preservation Commission will have the final say on that one, the community board’s stance carries a significant amount of weight.

If you are gearing up for a potential battle with a community board, you will need strong, effective legal representation.

The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.

Additional Resources:

Bronx lawmakers want State Liquor Authority to consult police before granting liquor licenses, Sept. 3, 2013, By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News



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