New York Liquor License Approval Process – New Measure Gives Community Boards More Clout

UPDATE: As of March 1, 2015, this bill did not pass. The requisite liquor license community board notice remains 30 days

The state Assembly passed a bill last month that would give community boards increased powers in the liquor-license approval process in New York, the Queens Gazette reported. The measure is now awaiting action in the state senate.

Queens restaurant attorneys know how critical a successful liquor license application can be to a restaurant’s success. In many cases, failure to obtain a license, or having your liquor license revoked or suspended, results in business closure. Legal representation before the State Liquor Authority is best done by an experienced Manhattan business law firm.

Under current law, the State Liquor Authority requires bars, hotels, liquor stores, catering companies and other alcohol vendors to notify their community board or municipality 30 days prior to filing an application for a liquor license.

Community boards then review applications, business plans, menus and other background information before making a recommendation to the SLA about whether to approve the application. An experienced attorney can guide an applicant through the process, address any concerns raised by the board, and help avoid delays in the application or approval process. Experienced legal counsel can also help you ensure you are in compliance with all aspects of the law, including proximity to churches and schools.

The new proposal would require 60-day notice be given to community boards before an applicant could file a liquor-license application with the state. Supporters say the current 30-day rule doesn’t always permit the boards to timely notify the public of an upcoming hearing. Introduced by a Jackson Heights Assemblymember, the bill would also provide for a liaison position between the SLA and the boards.

The issue further illustrates the scrutiny under which liquor establishments are operating in the city as the media continues to highlights concerns of some in law enforcement and the community regarding violence, noise and traffic issues. Such concerns are sometimes bolstered by the increasing number of new neighborhood bars and restaurants serving alcohol. Under state law, the establishment cannot be within 200 feet of a synagogue, church or school.

Applicants also face the “500-foot rule,” which limits location of some on-premises liquor establishments within a certain radius of existing establishments holding an on-premises license. Those licensed under Section 64, 64-a, 64-c and 64-d of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law — those with “full” (liquor, beer and wine) liquor licenses — are not only generally subject to the 500-foot rule, they must also have a compliant kitchen with a chef serving meals.

The community boards can make a “yes or no” recommendation, but they do not have final authority over whether a business is granted a liquor license. That authority rests only with the New York State Liquor Authority.

The State Liquor Authority:

-Issues licenses and permits for the manufacture, wholesale distribution and retail sale of all alcoholic beverages.

-Regulates the trade and credit practices related to the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages at wholesale and retail levels.

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